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GUfrifittan Innmattra 

A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology 


Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen 



Professor of Systematic Theology 
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo. 

£7 riff XaXet, (be Xoyta faov. — 1 Pet. 4, 11. 

St. Louis, Mo. 



IK U. B. A, 


Copyright 1934 . 

St. Louis, Mo. 







For over half a century the outstanding teacher of dogmatics at 
Concordia Seminary was the late Dr. Francis Pieper, whom the Lord 
called to his reward in J une, 1931. His courses in Christian theology 
were given in German even to the last, and also his great work on 
dogmatics, his Christliche Dogmatik, was written in that language. 
It will always remain a standard reference work, which students and 
pastors who possess an adequate knowledge of German will study with 
profit and pleasure. Nevertheless, since many students of dogmatics 
do not understand German, a comprehensive text-book on the subject 
written in English has been desired for some time. Moved by the 
requests of many students and encouraged by his esteemed teacher 
and colleague to undertake the work, the undersigned applied himself 
to the task of writing this one-volume Christian Dogmatics. His aim 
was to present the voluminous doctrinal material in Dr. Pieper's 
Christliche Dogmatik as clearly, concisely, and, at the same time, as 
completely and practically as possible in order that the student of 
doctrinal theology might have a usable compend to introduce him into 
this important field of sacred theology and the busy pastor an ade- 
quate epitome of the Christian faith to assist him in his review of 
the subject. The intention was not to render a possible translation 
of Dr. Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik unnecessary, nor was it designed 
to take the place of a larger original work on systematic theology. 
It was simply to be a sizable handbook of Christian dogmatics pre- 
senting both to the theological student and to the practical pastor 
the entire subject of doctrinal theology in a brief, yet complete sum- 
mary according to Dr. F. Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, 

While the writer followed Dr. Pieper's standard work rather 
closely, he did not bind himself to details in form or content. For 
this reason the book may be used as an independent text-book, com- 
plete in itself. Commonly the footnotes were embodied in the text. 
The purely polemical matter was greatly condensed; but the writer 
did not deem it advisable to omit it altogether, since confessional 
Lutheranism cannot assert itself without directing attention to the 
opposing tendencies of Romanism, Calvinism, synergism, and ration- 
alism, which have always attacked and endangered the Lutheran 

Dr. Pieper's method of teaching dogmatics was in many ways 
ideal; nevertheless each instructor in this branch of sacred theology 
has certain aims in view which will more or less determine his method 
of presentation. The writer consistently followed Dr. Pieper's custom 
of quoting Luther and the Lutheran Confessions on the major points 



on which they have spoken, since the Lutheran student cannot discard 
their valuable testimony. In addition, however, he has frequently 
quoted also our older dogmaticians, using as his source the Doctrinal 
Theology of the Ev. Luth. Church by Heinrich Schmid, translated 
from the German and Latin by Chas. A. Hay and Hy. E. Jacobs. This 
popular volume presents to the student many helpful passages from 
the works of our great dogmaticians in a convenient form and there- 
fore deserves diligent study. The writer indeed does not agree 
with every statement of either Dr. Schmid or the cited dogmaticians, 
yet it is both interesting and instructive to consider their doctrinal 
expositions even in brief excerpts. While a fair knowledge of Latin, 
Greek, and Hebrew will greatly aid the student in understanding this 
Christian Dogmatics, it may be profitably studied even without the 
knowledge of these languages. Commonly the Scripture-passages are 
only indicated, but the reader is expected to compare them carefully, 
if possible in Greek and Hebrew, since the original often brings out 
the proof value of a text more distinctly than does the translation. 
Dr. A. L. Graebner's Outlines of Doctrinal Theology may be used for 
collateral study. The writer has always employed this book in his 
lectures, both on account of its excellent definitions of the given doc- 
trines and its well-grouped Scripture-passages. However, the greatest 
profit will be obtained if this volume is used in connection with the 
more complete treatment of the various heads in Dr. Pieper's 
Christliche Dogmatik. 

The writer wishes to thank his esteemed colleagues Dr. E. 
Engelder, Dr. W. Arndt, and Dr. P. E. Kretzmann for their careful 
and conscientious reading of the manuscript and their many helpful 
suggestions. He acknowledges his indebtedness also to Synod's Litera- 
ture Board, especially to Eev. L. Buchheimer, Eev. A. Doerffler, and 
Mr. E. Seuel of Concordia Publishing House, to Prof. W. G. Polack 
and Dr. W. A. Maier for their hearty support and personal interest 
in the venture, and to his secretary, Rev. F. T. Gabert, for his services 
in retyping the manuscript. 

In view of the fact that this handbook is largely a restatement 
of Dr. Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik the writer has consoled himself 
with the thought that even the "prince of the theologians of the 
Augsburg Confession," Martin Chemnitz, was satisfied with publish- 
ing a mere commentary on Melanchthon's Loci Communes, his justly 
famous Loci Theologici, and that this work proved so eminently suc- 
cessful in the Lutheran Church; also that the well-known dogmatics 
of John William Baier, his Compendium Theologiae Positivae, was 
really a compend of the theology of Musaeus and "many other orthodox 
theologians"; and finally, that also John Andrew Quenstedt's Theo- 
logia Didactico-Polemica followed most closely the outline of John 



Frederick Koenig, whose compend of theology, Theologia Positiva 
Acroamatica, was widely used as a text-book. We live by the light of 
the faith of our fathers. 

Since this handbook of doctrinal theology had to be relatively 
brief, much valuable dogmatic material was omitted. The student 
will find much additional dogmatic material in Pastoral Theology by 
Dean J. H. C. Fritz, D. D., and in the new Popular Symbolics by 
Drs. Arndt, Engelder, Graebner, and Prof. F. E. Mayer. These three 
handbooks, supplementing one another, leave hardly any question un- 
answered that pertains to Christian doctrine and a pure Scriptural 
practise. It is the writer's privilege to recommend these two im- 
portant handbooks in connection with the use of this Christian 

We are sure that the readers will appreciate the excellent 
Preface which our esteemed colleague Dr. P. E. Kretzmann has 
written upon the author's request. This fine conspectus of dogmatic 
research may be viewed as compensatory since the limited space of 
the handbook did not permit any adequate treatment of more recent 
developments in the field of dogmatics. It may also serve the student 
who is more deeply interested in the modern phases of dogmatic lore 
as an outline and canon by which to orient his own studies. 

May this Christian Dogmatics, then, go forth on its errand of 
assisting all students of dogmatics who desire to use it in their study 
of Christian doctrine! Shortcomings though it may have, it is never- 
theless a clear and correct testimony of "God's Word and Luther's 
doctrine pure"; for it was composed with constant consideration of 
our Lord's command : "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles 
of God," 1 Pet. 4, 11. 

St. Louis, Mo. John Theodore Mueller. 


In supplying a preface for the handbook of doctrinal theology 
which is herewith being offered to the theological world, the under- 
signed is fully aware that he will add nothing to the intrinsic value 
of the book. Yet in doing so, he is yielding to the repeated requests 
of the esteemed author, who desired a special introduction presenting 
a brief survey of doctrinal theology from the time of Schleiermacher 
to the present day. The supposition is that a foreword of this kind 
may serve some little purpose as a kind of foil to set off the beauty 
of a strictly confessional theology as compared with the frequently 
false, or at least inadequate, presentation found in the great majority 
of books on dogmatics which have been issued in the century since the 
death of Schleiermacher, in 1834. It is with this purpose in mind that 
this short introduction is written. 

We must begin, naturally enough, with Schleiermacher himself 
(1768 — 1834), for his influence has dominated the theological thinking 
of some of the most prominent dogmaticians since his time. The 
theology of Schleiermacher is largely, if not entirely, subjectivistic, 
as his chief writings, his Reden ueber die christliche Religion (1799) 
and his Christlicher Glaube nach den Orundsaetzen der evangelischen 
Eirche, im Zusammenhang dargestellt (1821 — 22), clearly show. 
There can be no doubt that he was governed by certain points in the 
system of Spinoza, and there is evidence also of his being influenced 
by the philosophy of Kant. His early theology was clearly pantheistic, 
the ideas of God and of the universe converging in his presentation, 
while Christ was to him the archetype of a pure consciousness of God 
and the mediator of genuine piety. His idea of religion was not that 
of a knowledge based upon the objective revelation of God, but the 
consciousness of a person's "absolute dependence" upon God. The 
"overworld" of Schleiermacher is one which man "intuits" by faith, 
and faith to him is practically nothing but the immediate self- 
consciousness of man's relationship to this "overworld." His concept 
of sin and guilt is that of mere inadequacy on the part of man. To 
him Christ is not Himself the object of faith, but merely the archetype 
of the proper and ideal condition of soul in the case of every believer. 
According to Schleiermacher the essence of redemption and reconcilia- 
tion consists in man's becoming conscious of the eternal unity. His 
"religion" is thoroughly and entirely a religion of feeling. If a person 
has reached that state of mind in which he feels that he is in fellow- 
ship of life with Christ, regardless of the Gospel revelation, he may be 
sure of his redemption, of his salvation. Schleiermacher did not per- 
mit one Christian doctrine to stand unchallenged, but subverted every 




fundamental truth, from the inspiration of the Bible to the doctrine 
of the last things. 

Yet Schleiermacher found many adherents in his own day as well 
as many followers after his death, so that we may even speak of 
a school which was, and to some extent is, governed by his religious 
philosophy. One of the most prominent theologians among the con- 
temporaries of Schleiermacher was De Wette (1780 — 1849), who en- 
tered into friendly relations with the older teacher during his sojourn 
in Berlin. De Wette really denies revelation in the Scriptural sense. 
His doctrinal system is based upon the Kantian criticism, and he 
favored the theory of religion as feeling. He is the predecessor of 
Wellhausen and of the modern higher criticism. He insisted upon 
the distinction between intelligent, ideal, and esthetic convictions in 
religious matters, and his insistence upon this intelligent (or intel- 
lectual) appreciation of the doctrine of Christ deprived the Gospel of 
its Christian content, although he usually clothed his dogmatic presen- 
tations in the garb of the old orthodox terms. Another man who was 
first a pupil and then a friend of Schleiermacher was Twesten 
(1789 — 1876), who made the principles of his teacher his starting- 
point, but went beyond the idea of dogma as presentations of pious 
conditions of mind in an effort to establish objective truth. When 
Twesten, in 1835, became Schleiermacher^ successor in Berlin, he 
maintained a mediating position between Marheinecke and Hengsten- 
berg, the former being an exponent of Hegeliani&m, which excludes 
redemption and prayer and has no adequate conception of personality 
and no consciousness of sin, the latter representing a neo-orthodox 
legalism, although he did splendid service in opposing higher criticism. 
Twesten's attitude of mediation became so strongly unionistic that 
he defended the association of all Christians living in one place at 
the same time, even without doctrinal agreement. A third man whom 
we must name as a faithful disciple of Schleiermacher is Schweizer 
of Zuerich (1808 — 1888). He became the exponent of the Reformed 
type of his teacher's ideas and may be called a predecessor of K. Barth. 
His position showed an eminently speculative spirit, and his sub- 
jectivism is seen in his insistence that dogmatics must go to the 
living consciousness of the Christian for its material instead of to 
the objective certainty of the Word of God alone. 

More dangerous to sound confessionalism in many respects than 
Schleiermacher was Albrecht Ritschl (1822 — 1889), a man who 
gained some of his ideas from Kant, others from Schleiermacher, of 
whom he states that he was the only one since the Reformation to 
employ the scientific method of proof in theology. He subverts the 
very foundation of truth by referring to the "precarious medium of 
the theory of inspiration," and he sought the facts of theology in 
religious consciousness. He rejected the deity of Christ, merely con- 



ceding that Jesus was a religious genius, a religious hero, who had 
progressed so far in moral and spiritual attainments that to the Chris- 
tian He has "the value of God." On the atonement of Christ he wrote 
a large monograph, in which he defends a doctrine which leaves out 
the cardinal points of the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior. The im- 
mortality of the soul is treated in his theology as an indifferent matter. 
The most objectionable feature of Ritschlianism is its two-facedness. 
It uses the old theological terms with new meanings; the negative 
liberal thought is clothed in the old orthodox expressions. While 
Ritschl retained a semblance of Christian theology, he either changed 
the Christian doctrine substantially or rejected it outright. His favo- 
rite expression is "the kingdom of God," by which he means a general 
organization or fellowship of men, whose chief distinguishing mark is 
mutual activity on the basis of love, but without the objective truth 
of the Gospel. 

Among the university teachers of Germany who were strongly 
influenced by Ritschl (in some cases also by Schleiermacher) the fol- 
lowing exerted considerable influence: Wilhelm Hermann (fl922), 
who modified his teacher's "reflections" concerning the historical Jesus 
by emphasizing intuition to such an extent as to make the term 
Christ-mysticism applicable to his teaching, while the Bible was re- 
garded by him as nothing but a form in which the Christian faith 
expresses itself, thus making his teaching strongly "modernistic"; 
Hermann Sohultz (+ 1903), who also advocated an immediate re- 
ligious contemplation of Christ, whose historicity he regarded as 
problematical and whose deity he denied ; then J. Gottschick, P. Lob- 
stein, Julius Kaftan, — one of the strongest exponents of the Ritsch- 
lian school, although he tried to return to the Confessions, — 
Th. Haering, who held wrong views concerning the guilt of man, 
H. H. Wendt, who is farther away from the truth, F. Kattenbusch, 
who is confessional in his attitude, P. Drews, who faces in the other 
direction, E. W. Mayer, 0. Kirn, who denies the vicarious satisfaction 
and most other fundamental truths of the Bible, K. Thieme, and 
others. Among the American clergymen who were strongly influ- 
enced by Ritschlianism are W. A. Brown, C. F. Clarke, G. B. Smith, 
Wm. De Witt Hyde, G. W. Gladden, Rauschenbusch, King, Sellars, 
Ward, Vedder, and others, most of whom became the exponents of the 
social gospel with its destruction of the fundamental truths of 

In Germany other forces beside the theology of Schleiermacher 
were at work during the first half of the nineteenth century. The 
last exponent of formal rationalism was Paulus of Heidelberg 
(t 1851) ; men who were influenced by the pantheistic philosophy of 
Schelling and Hegel were J. M. Daub (f 1856), who was very active in 
the field of religio-historical research, and Marheinicke (f 1846), 



whose doctrinal theology was influenced throughout by Hegel. About 
this time there was also a revival of Pietism, with a rather romantic 
coloring, favored by men like Novalis and Tholuck (who, with all his 
excellencies, could not understand confessional Lutherans), the move- 
ment stressing in particular the feeling of sin and of grace, also 
a supranaturalism and 'TJiblicism (a dead literalism)," which differed 
widely from the attitude taken by Fr. Strauss. In the midst of this 
turmoil we find certain trends which resulted in three more or less 
distinct schools of religious or theological thought. 

The first of these schools was that which is now known as the 
extreme liberal school, with Ludw. Feuerbaoh (+ 1872) as one of its 
first great exponents and Ferd. Chr. Baur (1792 — 1860) as its chief 
apostle. The latter is the founder of the so-called Tuebinger Schvle, 
which became notorious for its attack on practically every tenet of 
orthodox Biblical introduction and on every Christian doctrine. In 
his case the statement came true: "A theology that ceases to be 
a theology of the heart and to make the historical Christ the center 
of the Christian life will eventually suffer shipwreck with regard to 
its faith." Yet the evil and detrimental influence of this movement 
was very great, not only through the work of men like Schwegler, 
Planck, and others in Germany, but also through the work of British 
and American theologians, who felt that the false higher criticism 
introduced by Bauer and carried on by men like Hilgenfeld must con- 
tain some elements of truth. These men practically killed the truth 
in the circles in which they moved. 

The liberal Tuebingen school found strong opposition in the con- 
fessional school centering in Erlangen, but equally powerful in the 
faculties at Leipzig and Rostock. The most important exponents of 
this school deserve more than a passing mention because they were 
strong defenders of the Bible truth and of the Lutheran Confessions, 
even if they erred in occasional matters. "The Erlangen theology 
presumed to be genuinely Lutheran, but frequently gave up the prin- 
ciple that Christian theology must be based on Scripture alone." The 
fact that most of these men were accused of orthodox traditionalism 
is decidedly in their favor. Von Hofmann (1810 — 1877) is the father 
of the Ich-theologie, a man who denied the verbal inspiration. His 
most notable doctrinal work is his Schriftbeweis. His attempt to 
prove the authenticity and divine origin of Christianity from its 
records was a mighty attempt, but this very effort caused him to lose 
sight of the transcendental presuppositions of history, so that his 
presentation of the doctrine of the Scriptural kenosis. of the vicarious 
atonement, and of justification is entirely false. Harless (1806 to 
1879), who "wanted to be more orthodox than the old Lutheran 
teachers," but sometimes failed in his attempt, was especially active 
in the fields of catechetics and of church music. His Theological 



Encyclopedia gives his views of the Church and of many other doc- 
trines, and his System of Christian Ethics marks an epoch in Protes- 
tant literature. Theodosius Harnack (1817 — 1889), who made 
a special study of Luther's theology, was opposed to the state church 
and did some excellent work, but erred, for example, in making the 
Gospel a modification of the Law. Hoefling (1802 — 1853) was espe- 
cially active in the field of liturgies, in which his magnum opus was 
the monograph Das Sakrament der Taufe, but in which he also erred 
in the doctrine of the ministerial office. Von Zezschwitz (1825 to 
1S86) was particularly prominent in the field of catechetics; his con- 
fessional standpoint was soundly Lutheran, opposing both Romanism 
and the Prussian Union. Franz Delitzsch (1813 — 1890) is notable 
on account of his monumental work in the field of exegesis. He was 
broader in his views than von Hofmann, and his theology was not 
free from theosophic influences, just as he made certain concessions to 
the liberal position in the field of Biblical criticism, against which 
a conservative theologian must be on his guard. Gottfried Thomasius 
(1802 — 1875) was great both as a writer and as a teacher and preacher, 
his most notable writing being Christi Person und Werk, in which 
unfortunately he teaches an unscriptural kenosis. Franz Frank 
(1827 — 1S94) wrote the monumental work Theologie der Konkordien- 
formel, a veritable storehouse of the history of dogma in the sixteenth 
century, and that threefold masterpiece of theological learning, 
System der christlichen Gewiszheit — der christlichen Wahrheit — 
der christlichen Sittlichkeit. It is unfortunate that Frank, with all 
his amazing learning, clung to a false subjectivism, so that he did 
not place the Scriptures in the first place as the objective principium 
cognoscendi. Luthardt (1823 — 1902) was active in the field of exe- 
gesis as well as in systematic theology (Kompendium der Dogmatik; 
13th edition by Jelke, 1933), his chief errors being in the doctrines of 
inspiration, the office of Christ (kenoticism), and regarding synergism. 
He was for many years editor of the Allgemeine Ev.-Luth. Kirchen- 
zeitung, which tried to uphold the sound Lutheran position. Kliefoth 
(1810 — 1895), an opponent of von Hofmann in many points, is known 
for his extensive work in the field of liturgies and of church polity, 
for his opposition to territorialism and unionism, for his eccleeias- 
ticism and hierarchical tendencies. He was one of the founders of the 
Allgemeine Ev.-Luth. Konferenz. Kahnis (1814 — 1888) in his earlier 
career was a subordinationist and even departed radically from the 
doctrine of the Trinity, but in later years became much more con- 
servative, as his Lutherische Dogmatik reveals. Yet he continued to 
hold false views on inspiration and to dissent in the doctrine of the 
Trinity and of the Lord's Supper. Philippi (1809 — 1882) took a very 
decided qtand against modern subjectivism and in his Kirchliche 
Olaubenslehre follows the dogmaticians of the orthodox age more 



closely than Thomasius. One of the most important writers is 
Wm. Rohnert (f 1902), who stands four-square upon Scripture as the 
one source and norm of all Christian theology, although he is not 
correct in his doctrine of the election. Other men who might here 
be mentioned are Hase (Hutterus Redivivus), — otherwise rational- 
istic, — Schmid (Dogmatik der ev.-luth. Kirche — Lutheran), Hoppe 
(Dogmatik des deutschen Protestantismus — Reformed), Schnecken- 
burger (Zur kirchlichen Christologie), Martensen (Dogmatik), who 
denied that Christ was inspired, Sartorius (Die heilige Liebe), a ke- 
noticist, and Oettingen (Die lutherische Dogmatik), who wrote in 
the spirit of the Erlangen school. 

The third group, or school, is that of the compromise theologians 
(the Halle school), representatives of which were found at practically 
all theological schools of Prussia. Kattenbusch says that these theo- 
logians may well be called the modern Philippists, whose tendencies 
were fashioned as a result of the "awakening," or second surge of 
Pietism, as a consequence of which they combined "Biblicism" with 
a scientific attitude toward the Bible. In this group we may well place 
Hengstenberg (1802 — 1869), who was especially prominent in Old 
Testament exegesis and exerted a great influence through his editor- 
ship of the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung. He was opposed to ration- 
alism, but was himself not always trustworthy in his views, his alle- 
gorizing in particular often leading him into the errors of the Berle- 
burger Bibel. Nitzsch (1787 — 1868) is another mediating theologian, 
whose System der christlichen Lehre was strongly influenced by 
Schleiermacher^s subjectivism, just as he strongly favored the union 
of Lutherans and Keformed bodies. Tholuck (1799 — 1877), with all 
his apparent originality and undoubted brilliancy, was influenced by 
Pietism, Moravianism, Schleiermacher, Neander, and even Hegel. He 
assumed the possibility of errors in the Bible. Jul. Mueller (1801 
to 1878) is notable in particular for his Christliche Lehre von der 
Suende with its assumption of an intelligible (intellectual) self- 
decision and for his vacillating position concerning the Prussian 
union. Landerer (1810 — 1878) tried to mediate between Baur and 
Beck and constructed Christology along anthropocentric lines. 
Dorner (1809 — 1884) is rightly considered one of the most prominent 
theologians of the nineteenth century, his chief monograph being his 
Lehre von der Person Christi, in which unfortunately he presented 
a false kenosis doctrine. His Christology throughout is influenced by 
philosophy. Other men who may be said to belong to this group are 
Koestlin (Luthers Theologie), Luecke (Johannes-Kommentar), Grasz 
(Geschichte der protestantischen Dogmatik), and especially Rothe 
(Theologische Ethik), who takes a very critical position over against 
the Bible. 

The newer form of the Erlangen theology is represented by 



Ihmels (fl933), who is not adequate in a number of points in his 
doctrinal position, particularly because of his denying the sacrificial 
concept of Christ's obedience unto death ; jR. Seeberg, who champions 
the "modern-positive" attitude toward theology, following Frank in 
many respects, so that he, like him, does not, e. g., quite accept the 
Gospel as an actual means of grace; J. Kunze (fl927), who was 
a faithful disciple of Luthardt; Theodor Kaftan (t 1932), who denied 
the verbal inspiration; Beth, and others. Among the more recent 
theologians of the compromise or mediating school is Lemme (t 1928), 
a pupil of Dorner, M. Kaehler (f 1912), Cremer (t 1903), Zoeckler 
(t 1906), known especially for his Handbuch der theologischen Wissen- 
schaftj and Schnedermann. In the more liberal field we have the 
names of Lipeius (t 1892), Pfleiderer (t 1908), and Luedemann. 
German theologians who are at the present time studying the theology 
of Luther and the Lutheran Confessions with more or less pronounced 
success are Elert (Morphologie des Luthertums) , Sommerlath, Doerne, 
Jelke, K. Schneider, Koeberle, Uoll, Kurtz, and K. Stange. 

Meanwhile we also have a religio-historical school in Germany 
and elsewhere, with a fairly strong renascence of the ideas of Schleier- 
macher and Ritschl. Here we must place De Lagarde (f 1891), Over- 
beck (f 1905), Ernst Troeltzsch (t 1923), Aulen, and others. Of 
a more Ritschlian cast are Luettge, Mulert, Stephan, Titius, Wehrung, 
Wobbermin, and Fabricius, some of whom have also recast some of 
Schleiermacher's ideas. Girgensohn (t 1925) is often called a confes- 
sional theologian, but his Grundriss is not at all adequate on many 
questions of Christology and soteriology. — Some of the more promi- 
nent writers in Stange's Zeitschrift fuer systematische Theologie are 
P. Althaus, Jr., and E. Hirsch. The influence of A. v. Harnack 
(t 1930), a follower of Ritschl, and of R. Sohm (f 1917), is generally 

At the present time the following men are most prominent in the 
field of systematic theology in Germany : R. Otto, whose great mono- 
graph Das Heilige passed through twenty-two editions in fifteen years 
and was translated into seven languages ; F. Heiler, who regards him- 
self as a spiritual disciple of W. Loehe and is influencing doctrine 
through his book The Spirit of Worship and his monthly journal 
Die Hochkirche; Karl Heim, a very prolific writer, who operates 
strongly with the element of introspection; Karl Barth, with his 
"dialectical theology" (a "combatant theology favoring vehement dis- 
cussion"), or "theology of crisis," which opposes relativism and repre- 
sents a pessimism which practically denies the certainty of salvation ; 
Oogarten, Thurneysen, and Brunner, who are closest to Barth, to- 
gether with 0. Piper. Among the Ritschlian eclectics of recent years 
are Martin Rade and Horst Stephan. The Northern countries have 
the following theologians : Goeransson, Nygren, Lindroth, Scharling, 



Madsen, Krarup, Bang, Geismar, Gisle Johnson, Krogh-Touning, and 
Fredrik Petersen. 

In the general field of English theology few outstanding works 
were produced during the last century. Some of the more prominent 
writers of England in the field of doctrinal theology were Cobb, Christ- 
mas, Stuart, Lyddon, Gore, and Moule, with Sydney Cave as a repre- 
sentative of the extra- Anglican theology in the liberal field. Of Amer- 
ican writers in the field the names of the two Hodges (Presb.), father 
and son, deserve a prominent place; but the writings of Hopkins 
(Congr.), Hall, F.J. (Episc), Shedd (Presb.), Clark (Episc), Strong 
(Baptist), Sheldon (Meth. Episc), Mackenzie (Congr.), and Knudson 
(Boston Univ.) are often quoted, while the field of social theology has 
strong exponents, such as Rauschenbusch, Sellars, Brown, De Witt, 
G. B. Smith, Clarke, Vedder, and others. This latter group may also 
be designated as Modernists, especially Brown, with men like Fosdick, 
Grant, and Cadman as other exponents. These men are really the 
new rationalists, except that they profess an adherence to the forms, 
and use the terms, of orthodox Christianity, which they have emptied 
of their real contents. 

Within the ranks of the Lutheran theologians of America not 
a few books in the field of doctrinal theology have appeared. In Latin 
we have Walther's edition of Baier's Compendium. In the English 
field we have the names of C. P. Krauth (The Conservative Refor- 
mation), Weidner (various monographs), Valentine (not soundly Lu- 
theran), Voigt, Jacobs, Gerberding, Lindberg, Hove, Stump, Mellen- 
bruch, and Reu (English and German). The works of Hoenecke 
(Ev.-Luth. Dogmatik, thetical) and of F. Pieper (Christliche Dog- 
matih, discussional) are soundly confessional and orthodox and are 
written with constant reference to late developments, especially in 

May the book which is herewith presented to the English-speaking 
theological world serve to arouse and maintain a new interest in the 
sound doctrine of J esus Christ, the God-man and Savior of the world ! 

St. Louis, Mo., during Holy Week, 1934. 

P. E. Ejietzmann. 




Introduction to Sacred Theology (Prolegomena) 1 

1. The Scriptural Viewpoint of the Christian Theologian 1 

2. Of Religion in General 4 

3. Of the Number of Religions in the World 6 

4. The Two Sources {Principia Cognoscendi) of the Existing 
Religions 14 

5. The Cause of Divisions in Christendom 17 

6. Christianity the Absolute Religion 25 

7. The Christian Religion and Christian Theology 29 

8. Christian Theology 30 

9. Theology Further Considered as a Habitude 33 

10. Theology Considered as Doctrine 37 

11. Divisions of Theology Conceived as Doctrine 43 

A. Law and Gospel 44 

B. Fundamental and Non-Fundamental Doctrines 47 

Primary and Secondary Fundamental Doctrines 52 

Non-Fundamental Doctrines 56 

C. Open Questions, or Theological Problems 58 

12. The Church and Its Dogmas 60 

13. The Purpose of Christian Theology 64 

14. The External Means by which Sacred Theology Accomplishes 

Its Purpose of Saving Sinners 66 

15. Theology and Science 67 

16. Theology and Positive Assurance 72 

17. Theology and Doctrinal Progress 74 

18. Theology and Academic Freedom 76 

19. Theological Systems 79 

20. Theological Methods 84 

21. The Acquisition of the Theological Habitude 86 


1. Holy Scripture the Only Source and Norm of Faith 90 

2. Holy Scripture the Word of God 98 

3. The Inspiration of the Bible 101 

4. The Relation of the Holy Spirit to the Holy Writers 106 

5. Objections to the Doctrine of Inspiration 107 

6. The Doctrine of Inspiration and Confessional Lutheranism .. 115 

7. The Denial of the Doctrine of Inspiration — Its Cause and Its 
Consequences 118 

8. The Properties of Holy Scripture 120 

A. The Divine Authority of Holy Scripture 120 

B. The Divine Efficacy of Holy Scripture 133 

C. The Divine Perfection, or Sufficiency, of Holy Scripture . . 137 

D. The Divine Perspicuity of Holy Scripture 138 





1. The Natural Knowledge of God 143 

2. The Holy Trinity 147 

3. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity in Controversy 150 

4. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Terminology of the 
Christian Church 153 

5. The Holy Trinity Revealed in the Old Testament 158 

6. God's Essence and Attributes 160 

1. The Doctrine in General 160 

2. The Negative Attributes 163 

3. Positive Attributes 167 



1. Definition of Creation 179 

2. The Order of Creation 179 

3. The Hexaemeron 180 

4. The Six Days of Creation Considered in Detail 181 

5. The Unity of the Human Race 185 

6. Special Questions Regarding the Creation Report 186 

7. Creation an External Act of God 187 

8. The Ultimate End of Creation 188 


1. Definition of Divine Providence 189 

2. The Objects of Divine Providence 190 

3. The Relation of Divine Providence to Secondary Causes .... 190 

4. Divine Concurrence in Good and Evil Actions 191 

5. Divine Providence and Free Will 193 


1. The Existence of Angels 196 

2. The Name "Angel" 196 

3. The Nature of the Angels 197 

4. The Number and Ranks of Angels 199 

5. Good and Evil Angels 199 

6. The Holy Service of the Good Angels 201 

7. The Evil Work and Eternal Punishment of the Evil Angels 202 


A. Man Before the Fall 205 

1. Man Created in the Image of God 205 

2. Definition of "Image of God" 205 

3. The Relation of the Divine Image to the Nature of Man .... 206 

4. Immediate Results of the Divine Image 208 

5. The Divine Image and Woman 209 

6. The Ultimate End of the Image of God in Man 209 



B. The State of Corruption 210 

a. Of Sin in General 210 

1. Definition of Sin 210 

2. The Divine Law and Sin 211 

3. How the Divine Law can be Known 213 

4. The Causes of Sin 214 

5. The Consequences of Sin 215 

b. Original Sin 216 

1. Definition of Original Sin 216 

2. The Corrupt Mind and Will of Man 219 

3. The Negative and Positive Sides of Original Sin 221 

4. The Universality of Original Sin 222 

5. The Cause of Original Sin 223 

6. The Effects of Original Sin 223 

c. Actual Sins 224 

1. Definition of Actual Sin 224 

2. The Causes of Actual Sin 225 

3. The Doctrine of Offense 226 

4. The Doctrine of Obduration 227 

5. The Scriptural Doctrine of Temptation 228 

6. The Classification of Actual Sins 228 



1. The Necessity of Divine Grace 242 

2. Definition of Divine Grace 243 

3. Attributes of Justifying Grace 246 

4. The Theological Terminology Regarding the Divine Will of 
Grace 251 


A. The Doctrine of the Person of Christ 256 

1. Introduction 256 

2. The True Deity of Christ 256 

3. The True Humanity of Christ 258 

4. The Personal Union 263 

5. The Communion of Natures 268 

6. The Communication of Attributes 272 

The First Genus 273 

The Second Genus 275 

The Third Genus 284 

B. The Doctrine of the States of Christ 287 

1. Definition of Christ's State of Humiliation 287 

2. Erroneous Views Regarding Christ's Humiliation 289 

3. The Several Stages of the Humiliation 292 

4. The State of Exaltation 295 

5. The Several Stages of Christ's Exaltation 296 



C. The Doctrine of Christ's Office 301 

a. The Prophetic Office of Christ 303 

1. The Execution of This Office in the State of Humiliation . . 303 

2. The Execution of the Prophetic Office in the State of Exal- 
tation 304 

b. The Sacerdotal Office of Christ 305 

1. The Vicarious Atonement 309 

2. Objective and Subjective Reconciliation 310 

3. Rejection of Errors Pertaining to Christ's Vicarious Atone- 
ment 311 

4. The Priestly Intercession of Christ 313 

c. The Kingly Office of Christ 314 

Errors Regarding the Kingly Office of Christ 317 



1. The Necessity of Faith 321 

2. The Nature of Saving Faith 322 

3. Concerning the Terms Knowledge, Assent, and Confidence . . 325 

4. Why Saving Faith Justifies 326 

5. Faith Viewed as a Passive Act or a Passive Instrument . . . 327 

6. Concerning the Expressions True Faith and Living Faith . . 329 

7. Faith and the Assurance of Salvation 329 

8. Can the Believer Be Sure of Possessing Saving Faith ? 330 

9. The Faith of Infants 332 

10. The Use of the Term Faith in Scripture 333 


1. Scriptural Basis of the Doctrine 336 

2. The Scriptural Definition of Conversion 336 

3. The Starting-point and the Terminus of Conversion 340 

4. The Efficient Cause of Conversion 342 

5. The Means of Conversion 346 

6. The Internal Motions in Conversion 349 

7. Conversion Is Instantaneous 350 

8. The Grace of Conversion Is Resistible 352 

9. Transitive and Intransitive Conversion 352 

10. Continued Conversion 353 

11. Reiterated Conversion 354 

12. Objections against Divine Monergism in Conversion 355 

13. The Pernicious Character of Synergism 360 

14. Synonyms of Conversion 362 


1. Definition of Justification 367 

2. Justification by Faith Alone 369 

3. The Doctrine of Justification the Central Doctrine of the 
Christian Religion 371 



4. The Christian Terminology by which the Doctrine of Justi- 
fication by Faith is Guarded against Error 373 

5. Justification on the Basis of Works 379 

6. The Effects of Justification 380 


1. Definition of Sanctification 384 

2. The Efficient Cause of Sanctification 386 

3. The Inner Motions of Sanctification 387 

4. The Means by which Sanctification is Accomplished 389 

5. The Necessity of Sanctification and Good Works 390 

6. The Imperfection of Christian Sanctification in This Life . . 396 

7. The Doctrine of Good Works 403 

A. Definition of Good Works 403 

B. The Works of the Heathen 408 

C. The Christian's Growth in Good Works 411 

8. The Reward of Good Works 415 

9. The Great Value of Good Works 417 

10. Perversion of the Doctrine of Good Works 420 

11. Sanctification and the Christian Life 424 

A. The Christian Life and the Cross 424 

B. The Christian Life and Prayer 428 

C. The Christian Life and the Hope of Eternal Life 434 



1. Definition of the Term 441 

2. The Means of Grace in General 442 

3. Erroneous Doctrines Regarding the Means of Grace 448 

4. The Importance of the Doctrine of the Means of Grace . . . 457 

5. The Means of Grace in the Form of Absolution 458 

6. The Means of Grace in the Old Testament 465 

7. The Means of Grace and Prayer 467 


1. Definition of Law and Gospel 470 

2. Features that Are Common to Both the Law and the Gospel 471 

3. The Law and Gospel Considered as Opposites 473 

4. The Close Connection between the Law and the Gospel .... 477 

5. The Art of Distinguishing between the Law and the Gospel 480 

6. By whom the Proper Distinction between the Law and the 
Gospel is Set Aside 484 


1. The Divine Institution of Baptism 486 

2. What Makes Baptism a Sacrament 488 

3. Baptism a True Means of Grace 491 




4. The Use of Baptism 496 

5. Whom the Church should Baptize 497 

6. The Administrants of Baptism 499 

7. The Necessity of Baptism 499 

8. Regarding Baptismal Customs 500 

9. The Baptism of John the Baptist 504 


1. The Divine Institution of the Lord's Supper 506 

2. The Relation of the Lord's Supper to the Other Means of 
Grace 507 

3. The Scriptural Doctrine of the Lord's Supper 509 

4. The Lutheran Doctrine and the Words of Institution 520 

5. Different Accounts of the Words of Institution 532 

6. The Material Elements in the Lord's Supper 524 

7. What Makes the Lord's Supper a Sacrament 528 

8. The Purpose of the Lord's Supper 533 

9. Who may be Admitted to the Lord's Supper 537 

10. The Necessity of the Lord's Supper 540 


A. The Church Universal 541 

1. Definition of the Term 541 

2. Erroneous Doctrines Concerning the Church 543 

3. The Properties of the Christian Church 547 

4. The Glory of the Christian Church 549 

5. How the Church is Founded and Preserved 551 

B. Concerning Local Churches 553 

1. Definition of the Term 553 

2. The Divine Institution of Local Churches 555 

3. Orthodox and Heterodox Churches 556 

4. Heterodox Churches and True Discipleship 558 

5. The Inadmissibility of Spiritual Fellowship with Heterodox 
Churches 559 

6. Separatists, or Schismatics 560 

7. The Representative Church 561 


1. Definition of the Term 563 

2. The Public Ministry and the Spiritual Priesthood of All 
Believers 564 

3. The Public Ministry is a Divine Appointment or Ordinance 566 

4. Is the Public Ministry Necessary? 569 

5. The Call into the Ministry 570 

6. Of Ordination 574 

7. The Christian Ministry does Not Constitute a Spiritual Estate 576 

8. The Power of the Public Ministry 578 




9. The Relation of Christian Ministers to One Another 579 

10. The Public Ministry Is the Supreme Office in the Church . . . 580 

11. Of Antichrist 580 


1. Definition of the Term 585 

2. How Believers are to Consider Their Election 589 

3. The Objects of Eternal Election 593 

4. The Relation of Faith to Eternal Election 598 

5. The Purpose of the Doctrine of Eternal Election 602 

6. Holy Scripture Teaches No Election to Damnation 606 

7. Why Many Reject the Scriptural Doctrine of Eternal Election 610 


1. Temporal Death 613 

2. The Condition of the Soul between Death and the Resur- 
rection 616 

3. The Second Advent of Christ 619 

4. The Resurrection of the Dead 625 

5. The Final Judgment 630 

6. The End of the World 631 

7. Eternal Damnation 633 

8. Eternal Salvation 639 


P. 16, 1. 8, read 27 f. for 127 ff. 

P. 26, 1.21, read nsjiXrjgco pivot for tfIeioi. 

P. 29, 1. 34, read 2 Tim. 2, 2 for 2 Tim. 2, 1. 

P. 34, 1. 29, read 339 for 399. 

P. 48, 1. 32, read 24 for 29. 

P. 54, 1. 9, read 98 f. for 99. 

P. 54, 1.41, read 1781 for 1871. 

P. 95, 1. 34, omit who. 

P. 120, 1. 14, read teaching for teachings. 

P. 139, 1. 11, read manuductio for manductio. 

P. 166, 1. 7, read praesentia for presentia. 

P. 556, 1. 3, read or for of. 


(De Natura et Constitutione Theologiae.) 

Introduction to Sacred Theology. 




Owing to the diverse views and tendencies prevailing among 
theologians to-day, it is necessary for the Christian theologian, 
before presenting to his readers his dogmatic treatise, to declare 
in clear and unmistakable terms from which viewpoint it has 
been written. 

The viewpoint of the present-day modernistic theologian is 
that truth must be determined by human reason in the light of 
scientific research. The theological Liberalist therefore does not 
recognize Holy Scripture as the source and norm of faith, but 
holds that this ancient standard of Christian doctrine has been 
superseded by the standards of reason and philosophy which he 
himself has established. Prom this viewpoint his dogmatic treatise 
is written, and since this viewpoint is anti-Scriptural and unchris- 
tian, it follows that his whole theology is rationalistic, naturalistic, 
and diametrically opposed to the Word of God. 

The viewpoint of the Roman Catholic theologian is that truth 
must be determined by both Holy Scripture and the "infallible" 
traditions of the Church as these are formally set forth in the papal 
decretals and decisions. Thus he accepts as a source and norm of 
faith, in addition to Holy Scripture (to which he falsely adds the 
Apocrypha), something that is foreign and even opposed to Holy 
Scripture and ascribes to it the same authority as to the Word 
of God. This erroneous viewpoint proves the antichristian char- 
acter of papistical theology; for it, too, is in direct opposition to 
Holy Scripture. 

The viewpoint of the modern rationalizing Protestant theo- 
logian is that, while Holy Scripture is indeed a "divine-human 
record of revealed truths/* which contains the doctrines that Chris- 
tians must believe for their salvation, these saving truths must be 
determined, not by any authoritative statement of the Scriptures, 




but rather by the Christian "faith-consciousness" or the "regen- 
erate and sanctified mind" or the "Christian experience" of the 
theologian ( das christliche Olaubembewusstsein, das wiedergeborne 
Ich, das christliche Erlebnis). In his opinion not the objective 
statement of Holy Scripture, but rather the "sanctified self- 
consciousness of the dogmatizing subject" (das fromme SelbsU 
bewusstsein des dogmatisierenden Subjekts) is in the last analysis 
the norm which decides what is divine truth and what is not. 
Modern rationalistic theology is therefore a movement away from 
Holy Scripture (eine Los-von-der-Schrift-Bewegung) to a source 
and norm of faith established by man himself. This movement 
may differ in degree, but is always the same in kind. It is basically 
anti-Scriptural and has its source in the unbelief of the corrupt 
flesh. The viewpoint of the modern rationalistic theologian must 
therefore likewise be rejected as unchristian and opposed to Holy 

The viewpoint from which the present dogmatic treatise is 
written is that Holy Scripture is the only source and norm of 
Christian faith and life, for the simple reason that the Bible is the 
divinely inspired Word of God, which is absolutely infallible and 
inerrant, both as a whole and in each individual passage. Hence, 
whenever it speaks on any point of doctrine or life, the matter is 
fully decided. Scriptura locuta, res dedsa est. This viewpoint 
identifies Holy Scripture with the Word of God; its claim is, not 
merely that the Bible contains the Word of God, but that it is, 
fully and absolutely, in all its parts, the Word of God. 

The fact that this viewpoint is the only correct one is proved 
by the statements and the attitude of both Christ and His inspired 
apostles. Our divine Savior accepted no other norm than Holy 
Scripture, and He invariably rejected the traditions of the Phari- 
sees and the "reasonings" of the Sadducees. When He declared 
His divine doctrines and refuted errors, He constantly based His 
teachings on the immovable foundation of the written Word 
of God. Thus at the beginning of His ministry He met the temp- 
tations of Satan with the emphatic assertion "It is written," Matt. 
4, 4, and He adhered to this principle throughout His ministry. 
Cp. John 5,39; Matt. 5, 17— 19 ; John 8,31.32; etc. 

Also the apostles regarded Holy Scripture, including their 
own inspired teachings, both oral and written, as the sole source 
and norm of faith. Cf. Gal. 1,8; 2 Tim. 3, 15— 17; Titus 1,9; 
1 Cor. 14, 37; 2 Pet. 1, 19—21; etc. When in the age of the 



Keformation the Bible was restored to its rightful place as the sole 
authority of the Christian faith, Luther once more proclaimed it 
to be "the fountain of all wisdom." (St. Louis Ed., I, 1289 ff.) 
The great Eeformer declared: "You must believe that God Him- 
self speaks in the Bible, and your attitude must be in accordance 
with that belief." (Ill, 21.) Those who, like the scholastic theo- 
logians, deviated from the Word of God and based their views and 
doctrines on the ground of reason or philosophy, were branded 
"monsters" (portenta) by Luther. The claim of modern rational- 
istic theologians that Luther's attitude with regard to the authority 
of Holy Scripture was "rather free" (eine freiere Stellung) is dis- 
proved by his own clear and emphatic statements to the contrary. 
And like Luther all true Christian theologians have at all times 
maintained that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and there- 
fore the only source and norm of Christian faith, — a truth which 
they stoutly upheld against all gainsayers. 

Modern rationalistic theologians declare that they cannot 
identify Holy Scripture with the Word of God or accept it as the 
sole norm of faith. They aver that their sense of actuality 
(WirJclichkeitssinri) does not permit them to do so, but instead 
demands another norm outside and beyond Holy Scripture, for 
example, their "Christian consciousness," their "Christian expe- 
rience," and the like. In reality, however, this claim only goes 
to prove how gravely they are deceiving themselves ; for the knowl- 
edge of divine truth can be gained only from the Word of God, 
The Christian faith therefore can be based solely upon God's 
Word. Our divine Lord states emphatically that we shall know 
the truth only if we continue in His Word as proclaimed by Him- 
self and by His inspired prophets and apostles, John 8, 31. 32; 
17,20; Eph. 2,20. 

How truly Christ has spoken the history of the Christian 
Church amply shows; for all theologians who at any time have 
rejected Holy Scripture as the sole norm of faith have invariably 
denied the specific Christian doctrines, such as the vicarious atone- 
ment of Christ, justification by grace through faith, etc. (Cf. Dr. P. 
Pieper, Christliche Dogmatik, Vol.1, 4 ff. ) Thus Hoftnann, the 
father of modern subjective theology (Ichtheologie), denied Christ's 
vicarious satisfaction and taught the pagan theology of salvation 
without the redemptive work of Christ. It is, moreover, proved 
by the confusion of doctrine (Lehrverwirrung) which has resulted 
whenever the principle that Holy Scripture is the sole authority 
in religion has been either ignored or surrendered. This confusion 



in doctrine prevails whenever norms different from Holy Scripture 
are accepted as the basis of Christian doctrine; for subjective 
theology can never supply the Christian Church with a true and 
certain basis of faith. Without Holy Scripture as the sole source 
and standard of faith the Church is without any foundation what- 
soever on which it can rest its faith ; it finds itself in a maelstrom 
of conflicting subjective views, all of which are fatal to the Chris- 
tian faith. 


The etymology of the term religion is still a matter of 
controversy. The Lutheran dogmatician Hollaz writes: "Some 
suppose the term religion to be derived from religare (Lactan- 
tius), others from relegere (Cicero). According to the former 
derivation, religion signifies the obligation rightly to worship God 
or something which imposes upon man obligations and duties. 
According to the latter etymology, religion is diligent attention 
to those things which pertain to the worship of God. The former 
derivation is more generally received/' (Doctr. Theol., p. 21. ) l ) 
The Lutheran dogmatician Quenstedt cites as synonyms of relig- 
ion the Greek terms i^grjoxEia, Jas. 1, 26; evoefieia, 1 Tim. 4, 8; 
Xoyixr/ laxQEta, Rom. 12, 1. However, none of these terms is really 
synonymous with religion, although each designates and emphasizes 
a particular phase of it. True religion is communion with the true 
God through faith in Jesus Christ ; it is nothing more and nothing 
less. Still the controversy concerning the etymological meaning of 
religion need not trouble us, since in the final analysis the denota- 
tion of a word does not depend on its etymological derivation, but 
rather on its usage (ilsus loquendi). 

However, from the common usage of the term religion we can 
derive no satisfactory definition of religion if we desire to include 
both the Christian religion and the non-Christian religions. While 
both Christians and non-Christians employ the term religion, each 
of these groups connects with it its own specific concepts and 
meanings, and, as we shall see, these are contradictory. The matter 
deserves careful attention. 

Investigation shows that all heathen religions stand in direct 
opposition to the Christian religion. They are all, without excep- 
tion, religions of the Law. To the heathen, religion means the 
earnest endeavor of men to reconcile the deities by their own efforts 

1) The Doctrinal Theology of the Ev. Luth. Church. By H. Schmid ; 
tr. by Jacobs and Hay. 



or works, such as worship, sacrifices, moral conduct, asceticism, etc. 
In this respect all non-Christian religions agree, no matter how 
much they may differ in individual details. Nor can we expect 
anything else ; for the heathen by nature do not know the Gospel 
(1 Cor. 2,6 — 10: "We speak . . . the hidden wisdom, . . . which 
none of the princes of this world knew"), but only the divine Law, 
namely, so far as this is written in their hearts. Hence all their 
religious thoughts move within the sphere of the Law, so that 
from beginning to end their religions are, and indeed must be, 
religions of the Law. 

Christians, on the contrary, believe true religion to consist in 
the very opposite. To Christians, religion means true faith in the 
Gospel of Jesus Christ, or in the gracious message, revealed in 
Holy Scripture, that a perfect reconciliation has been effected 
between God and man through the vicarious atonement (satisf actio 
vicaria) of the divine-human Christ, the Redeemer of the world. 
Hence religion in the true sense of the term may be ascribed only 
to believers in Christ Jesus. And that is precisely what God's 
Word teaches on this point. True religion, according to God's 
Word, is communion with God through faith in Jesus Christ. 
Thus St. Paul testifies : "Knowing that a man is not justified by 
the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we 
have believed in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the 
faith of Christ and not by the works of the Law," Gal. 2, 16. 

Whenever theologians or entire denominations within external 
Christendom deny the cardinal doctrine of justification by grace, 
through faith in Christ, either in whole or in part, these indi- 
viduals or church-bodies surrender the Christian conception of 
religion and adopt the pagan view. They are apostates from the 
Christian faith, as St. Paul declares : "Christ is become of no effect 
unto you whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen 
from grace," Gal. 5, 4. In short, the doctrine of salvation by faith 
and that of salvation by works are opposites (opposita), which 
necessarily exclude each other, so that, if any one trusts in his 
works for salvation, he no longer in deed and truth professes the 
Christian religion. 

The basic difference between the Christian religion and all 
other so-called religions has been aptly pointed out by Prof. Max 
Mueller of Oxford University, who writes: "In the discharge of 
my duties for forty years as professor of Sanskrit in the University 
of Oxford I have devoted as much time as any man living to the 



study of the sacred books of the East, and I have found the one 
key-note, the one diapason, so to speak, of all these so-called sacred 
books, . . . the one refrain through all — salvation by works. They 
all say that salvation must be purchased, must be bought with 
a price, and that the sole price, the sole purchase-money, must be 
our works and deservings. Our own Holy Bible, our sacred Book 
of the East, is from beginning to end a protest against this doctrine. 
Good works are indeed enjoined upon us in that sacred Book of 
the East ; but they are only the outcome of a grateful heart ; they 
are only a thank-offering, the fruits of our faith. They are never 
the ransom-money of the true disciples of Christ. Let us not shut 
our eyes to what is excellent and true and of good report in these 
sacred books; but let us teach Hindus, Buddhists, and Moham- 
medans that there is only one sacred Book of the East that can 
be their mainstay in that awful hour when they pass all alone into 
the unseen world. It is the sacred Book which contains that 
faithful saying, worthy to be received of all men, women, and 
children, and not merely of us Christians, that Christ Jesus came 
into the world to save sinners." (Cf. Pieper, Christliche Dog- 
matik, I, 15 ff.) 


The number of religions in the world has been variously 
estimated. We commonly speak of four different religions : Chris- 
tian, Jewish, Mohammedan, and pagan. While such an enumera- 
tion may be employed in common speech, it must never be for- 
gotten that in the final analysis all religions must be reduced to 
two classes: religions of the Law, that is, religions which endeavor 
to reconcile the Deity by works of the Law ; and the religion of the 
Gospel, that is, the belief, divinely wrought and engendered by 
the Holy Ghost through the means of grace, that God has been 
reconciled to the sinner without any works on his part, through 
the vicarious atonement of Christ Jesus, and that salvation is 
thus God's free gift, appropriated by the sinner through faith in 
Christ Jesus. 

This division of religions into two distinct and mutually ex- 
clusive groups is truly in accordance with Scripture. Holy Writ 
acknowledges as true religion only that which teaches that the 
sinner is saved through faith in Christ. It distinctly declares it to 
be the mission of the Christian Church to displace all man-made 
religions and to establish throughout the world the religion of the 
saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord's Great Commission 



reads: "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every 
creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he 
that believeth not shall be damned/' Mark 16, 15. 16. To St. Paul 
the glorified Savior said: I am sending thee to the Gentiles "to 
open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from 
the power of Satan unto God that they may receive forgiveness of 
sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that 
is in Me," Acts 26, 17. 18. According to this express statement of 
Holy Writ all who do not believe the Gospel are kept in darkness 
and in the power of Satan, from which they can be delivered only 
through sanctification by faith. 

Thus the Word of God recognizes only the Christian religion 
as true and as capable of bringing salvation to men; it alone de- 
serves the name of religion since it alone reunites sinful man with 
God. If man-made forms of worship are called religions, this 
term is applied to them in an improper sense, just as idols are 
termed "Gods" although in reality they are not Gods. Since this 
is the case, it is impossible to find a general religious concept or 
definition by which all religions existing in the world, both the 
true and the false, may be grouped in a single class. Christianity, 
by its very origin, does not belong in the category of man-made 

All who deny this and maintain that such a general religious 
concept or definition can be established overlook the essential dif- 
ference between the religion of Christ and religions of human 
origin. Eeligion has been defined as "the personal relation of man 
to God." This definition, it has been asserted, is broad enough to 
include both the Christian religion and the pagan religions. How- 
ever, its inadequacy becomes apparent as we begin to analyze 
"man's relation to God." Since all men are sinners, their relation 
to God by nature is that of fear and despair and, consequently, of 
hatred toward God. This miserable condition is attested both by 
Scripture and experience. According to the clear teaching of 
God's Word all men who are not born again through faith in 
Christ are "without Christ," "have no hope," and are "without 
God in the world," Eph. 2, 12. In spite of their earnest endeavors 
to reconcile God by their works they continue in their fear and 
hopelessness; for they remain under the curse and condemnation 
of the divine Law. This fact St. Paul asserts when he writes : "As 
many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse," 
Gal. 3, 10. The same apostle declares also that "the things which 
the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils and not to God," 1 Cor. 



10, 20. In short, as long as a person is without faith in Christ, his 
personal relation to God is a relation of dread, despair, and hope- 
lessness and therefore also of enmity against God, Rom. 8, 7. 

However, the personal relation to God changes as soon as 
a person becomes a child of God through faith in Christ; then he 
obtains "a good conscience," 1 Pet. 3, 21, the assurance of divine 
grace, the conviction that his sins are forgiven, and the inestimable 
hope of eternal life. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new crea- 
ture; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become 
new," 2 Cor. 5, 17. St. Paul describes this blessed relationship in 
beautiful terms Eom. 5, 1. 2, where he writes : "Therefore, being 
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus 
Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace 
wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." And 
again, v. 11 : "We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
by whom we have now received the atonement." The believer's 
personal relation to God is therefore the very opposite of the per- 
sonal relation to God which is found in the unbeliever ; it is a re- 
lation of peace, joy, and happiness. 

Again, religion has been defined as "the method of worshiping 
God." This definition is quite adequate as far as the Christian 
religion is concerned, but as a definition of religion in general it is 
woefully inadequate, since all non-Christian religions are certainly 
not "methods of worshiping God." True worship of God is possible 
only through faith in Christ, as our Lord emphatically tells us 
when He declares: "All men should honor the Son even as they 
honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the 
Father, which hath sent Him," John 5, 23. Every "worship of 
God" without Christ dishonors God; therefore, far from being 
worship of God, it is in reality blasphemy and opposition to God. 
Indeed, it is devil-worship, as St. Paul declares : "The things which 
the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils and not to God," 
1 Cor. 10, 20. In these words the apostle affirms in no uncertain 
terms that the heathen cannot worship the true God. Though 
they be ever so earnest in their endeavor to placate their deities, 
their worship is a service of devils. 

The reason for this is clear. All non-Christian religions err 
with regard to the object as well as to the method of worship. 
The heathen worship objects that are not divine and thus give the 
glory belonging to God to another and His praise to graven images, 
Is. 42, 8. Such blasphemous worship is an abomination in the 



sight of God and therefore the very opposite of true worship. But 
the non-Christian religions are in error also with respect to the 
method of worship. Since the heathen are ignorant of the divine 
Savior of men and therefore do not know that they must trust in 
Him for salvation, they seek to quiet their consciences whenever 
these are aroused to a consciousness of sin and guilt, and to recon- 
cile the objects of their worship, by good works. But reliance on 
good works for justification offends God and provokes Him to 
anger. "As many as are of the works of the Law are under the 
curse," Gal. 3, 10. That is God's verdict, His own condemnation 
of a worship offered to Him on the basis of human merit. 

In short, religion in general cannot be defined as "the method 
of worshiping God"; for that definition is applicable only to the 
Christian religion, not to any other. This fact has been deci- 
sively asserted by our Lutheran dogmaticians. Hollaz writes: 
"Religion, improperly speaking, signifies the false ; properly speak- 
ing, the true method of worshiping God." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 22.) 
This distinction is as vital as it is correct. 

Recently religion has been defined also as "the endeavor of 
man to secure, supplement, and perfect personal and social life 
with the aid of a higher, supernatural power." This endeavor, 
the German theologian Kirn avers, is common to all religions, so 
that it supplies us with a general concept for the definition of 
religion. However, this definition applies only to the religions of 
the Law, or the non-Christian religions, which certainly endeavor 
to "secure, supplement, and perfect personal life" through human 
efforts and works. It is the common denominator of all religions 
outside of Christianity; the erroneous opinion that a man must 
save himself by good deeds (opinio legis) is inherent by nature in 
all men. The Christian religion, however, differs radically from 
this false notion. In fact, from beginning to end it is a protest 
against the false doctrine that a man must "secure, supplement, 
and perfect life" by his own efforts. It rejects altogether the doc- 
trine of work-righteousness and establishes as its prime and basic 
principle the fact that a sinner is justified by grace alone, without 
the deeds of the Law. It is largely because of this vast divergence 
between the Christian religion and the religions of work-righteous- 
ness that the Gospel of Christ is a stumbling-block to the Jew and 
foolishness to the Greek, 1 Cor. 1, 23; 2, 14. Man, blinded by sin, 
does not desire a way to salvation that is purely by grace, through 
faith in a divine Savior. 



It is evident from the foregoing that Christianity, since it is 
the only true religion, dare not be placed in the same class with 
man-made religions. There is no general religious concept or 
definition that embraces the distinctive tenets of Christianity and 
of the man-made religions ; Christianity is quite in a class by itself. 
It alone is the true religion, while all the others are counterfeit; 
and just as little as counterfeit coin is real money, so little can 
man-made religions substantiate their claim of being real religions. 
If the term religion is applied to them, it is done in a wholly 
improper sense. If we do designate them as "religions," we do it 
in the same sense in which we term counterfeit coins "money" or 
in which Holy Scripture applies to the heathen idols the term 
"gods" (Dv6«). The application of the name in this case never 
means that the object thus designated is in reality that which the 
name expresses. The heathen idols are not Gods, nor are the 
heathen forms of worship religions in the true sense of the term. 

Quenstedt accordingly writes (I, 28) : "The term religion is 
used either improperly and falsely (abusive) or properly. Improp- 
erly and falsely it is used for false religion, namely, for the heathen, 
the Mohammedan, and the Jewish religions, in which sense Calix- 
tus, in the Theological Apparatus, treats of the divers religions of 
the world, in spite of the fact that there is only one true religion, 
namely, the Christian." In keeping with this doctrine our Lu- 
theran dogmaticians never sought a general religious concept or 
definition to comprehend both the Christian and the non-Chris- 
tian religions, but placed the Christian religion in a class by itself 
as the only religion and classed all others as false and as unworthy 
of the name. This classification alone is Scriptural. 

But here the objection has been raised that the old orthodox 
dogmaticians were devoid of an adequate psychological, philosoph- 
ical, and historical understanding of the various non-Christian relig- 
ions and that for this reason it is clear why they failed to appreciate 
these forms of worship. This lack of appreciation, it is maintained, 
has been supplied by modern research work in the psychology of 
religion, the philosophy of religion, and in comparative religion 
(Religionsgeschichte). Yet, as we shall see, even the results of 
these investigations do not disprove the correctness of the old dual 
division of religions into the true and the false. 

Modern religious psychology endeavors to point out "the simi- 
larity of the psychological phenomena" (die Oleichartigheit der 
psychologischen Erscheinungen) found in both the Christian re- 



ligion and the non-Christian religions. This similarity, it is said, 
was overlooked by the older theologians, and their inability to 
find a general concept or definition to cover both the Christian 
religion and the non-Christian religions is attributable to this fact. 
However, we may state in reply to this charge that, after all, the 
psychological phenomena of the Christian religion and of the non- 
Christian religions are not similar at all; in fact, essentially they 
are diametrically opposed to each other. In the heart of the non- 
Christian we commonly find such "psychological phenomena" as 
the consciousness of guilt, an accusing and condemning conscience, 
fear of punishment, flight from God, and an inward hatred of 
Him — and all these coupled with the constant desire to placate 
the Deity by good works. But since good works cannot reconcile 
God, we find in addition the "psychological phenomena" of terror 
of death, hopelessness, and despair. These "psychological phe- 
nomena" are clearly attested by Holy Scripture, Eph. 2, 12 : "hav- 
ing no hope" ; Heb. 2, 15 : "who through fear of death were all 
their lifetime subject to bondage." The candid confessions of 
honest and earnest heathen thinkers emphatically confirm what 
Holy Scripture teaches on this point; they all reecho the tragic 
note of spiritual despair as they contemplate human sinfulness 
and guilt. 

However, in the soul of the believing child of God we find the 
very opposite "psychological phenomena," such as the consciousness 
of guilt removed and of sin forgiven, peace with God (Rom. 5, 
1 — 3), filial love of God and implicit trust in His grace, triumph 
over death, and the sure hope of eternal life. And all these 
"psychological phenomena" are combined with the consecrated de- 
sire to serve God in deed and in truth, out of heartfelt gratitude 
for His unmerited gift of grace. Gal. 2, 20 : "The life which I now 
live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved 
me and gave Himself for me." St. Paul affirms the diversity of 
the "psychological phenomena" which he experienced before and 
after his conversion. He writes, 1 Cor. 15, 9. 10 : "I persecuted the 
Church of God; but by the grace of God I am what I am." 
Furthermore, in order to assure his readers of the blessedness of 
their Christian calling, he continually directs their attention to 
the diversity of the "psychological experiences" which they had 
undergone, first as benighted heathen and afterward as enlightened 
Christians. Eph. 2, 5 : "Even when we were dead in sins, hath 
[He] quickened us together with Christ." Cf. Eph. 2, 11— 22; 
1 Cor. 12,2. 27; etc. 



The similarity of the "psychological phenomena" which 
modern students of religious psychology assert so strongly is only 
a formal, not a material, similarity. Thus, both Christians and 
heathen engage in worship; yet how radically different is their 
worship in all its essentials! Christians pray, and so do the 
heathen ; yet what a vast difference there is between the Christian 
and the pagan prayer! Hence religious psychology, too, cannot 
deny the essential difference between the Christian and the non- 
Christian religions and must therefore admit that the dual division 
of religions into the true and the false is correct. 

The same holds true of the historical study of religion. Com- 
parative religion (Religionsgeschichte) demonstrates the fact that 
all religions outside the Christian religion are "religions of the 
Law," or "religions of works," maintaining as their basic principle 
that man must earn his salvation by worthy deeds. The glad 
tidings of salvation by grace through faith, on the other hand, 
is found in the Bible only, not in any other so-called book of 
religion. Thus the historical study of religion al60 can establish 
no other division of religions than that of the Lutheran dogma- 
ticians, who placed in the first group the Christian religion, which 
teaches salvation by grace, and in the second group all man-made 
religions, which teach salvation by works. "Work-religions" may 
differ in non-essential details, which depend on climatic, psycho- 
logical, and racial factors, but they all agree in the common funda- 
mental principle of salvation by works. 

Finally, the philosophical study of religion, or philosophy of 
religion, also cannot lead us beyond the dual division of religions 
in two distinct kinds, the one true and the other false. The student 
of religious philosophy can, of course, operate only with the natural 
knowledge of God, or the divine Law written in the heart of man. 
But when he does define religion on purely natural premises, that 
is, when he views religion wholly apart from divine revelation, his 
conclusion must necessarily be that religion is essentially man's 
effort to reconcile God on the basis of meritorious conduct. Thus 
Socrates, the greatest of Greek philosophers, although he surpassed 
all the others by the loftiness and sublimity of his philosophico- 
religious ideas, nevertheless demanded that in the hour of his 
death a cock be sacrificed to Aesculapius. Socrates conceived the 
need of a savior far greater than any possible human savior; yet 
since the true Savior was unknown to him, he was obliged to trust 
in his works for salvation. Also Immanuel Kant, who is commonly 
regarded as the foremost religious philosopher and is still the 



greatest of all modern philosophers, affirmed that from the view- 
point of pure philosophy the essence of religion must be regarded 
as "morality" and that the Christian doctrine of the atonement 
can have no place in any speculative system of religion. Religious 
philosophy must therefore always conceive of religion as the effort 
of man to win salvation by works. Thus the dual division of re- 
ligions established by Christian divines of bygone centuries must 
be retained even to-day. 

There is, however, a system of religious philosophy which 
seeks to build up its rationalistic speculations on the basis of Holy 
Scripture. The advocates of this type of religious philosophy 
admit that the revealed truths of Holy Scripture lie beyond the 
intellectual comprehension of man. For this reason these must 
be believed and accepted as true a priori. Yet the theologian 
should not remain satisfied with this simple act of believing. 
Through faith in the divine truths of revelation he must progress 
to their intellectual apprehension. What the ordinary believer 
knows by faith the theologian must understand. So Anselm of 
Canterbury, the father of medieval scholasticism, declared : "Credo, 
ut intelligam" Anselm's purpose, in a way, was laudable. He 
sought to meet and refute the skeptics of his time, who a priori 
rejected the revealed truths as false because they are unintelligible 
to human reason. Anselm demanded that the revealed truths 
should first be believed in order that they might be dialectically 
demonstrated and rationally understood. His underlying principle 
was that "a Christian through faith must progress to understand- 
ing and not through understanding to faith." "Christianus per 
fidem debet ad intellectum proficere, non per intellectum ad fidem 
accedere" The disciples of Anselm are the modern advocates of 
"scientific theology," falsely so called, who, like their medieval 
teacher, assert that faith must be elevated to knowledge, because 
only in this way the Christian religion can be perceived and demon- 
strated as the absolute truth. 

This endeavor, however, to harmonize faith with reason is 
unscriptural. Jesus assures us that we shall know the truth only 
if we continue in His Word by faith, John 8, 31. 32. In the same 
spirit, St. Paul asserts that all teachers of the Church who do 
not adhere to the truth of Christ Jesus by simple faith are "proud, 
knowing nothing, but doting," 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4. Thus both Christ 
and St. Paul are opposed to the endeavor of "scientific theologians" 
to elevate faith to knowledge and the revealed truth to a human 



science. The reason for this is evident. The Christian religion 
cannot be brought down to the level of man's intellectual compre- 
hension without losing its supernatural character and content. 
History shows very plainly how fatal the endeavor to "elevate" 
faith to knowledge has proved itself. Anselm denied the active 
obedience of Christ, Abelard denied His vicarious atonement, and 
in recent times the adherents of "scientific theology" have denied 
both the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture and the justification 
of a sinner by grace, through faith in Christ. Thus both the 
formal and the material principles of Christianity have been denied, 
and the whole Christian religion has been eviscerated of its divinely 
revealed content. The ultimate consequence of the application of 
philosophy to theology is Modernism or agnosticism. 

Incidentally, also this last consideration proves the correct- 
ness of the dual division of religions into the true and the false; 
for the content of the Christian religion is of such a nature that 
it is either completely received by faith or is completely rejected, 
since the mysteries of revealed truth are not recognized as such 
by human reason. The perverted reason of man acknowledges as 
true only the religion of the Law, or of works, while with all its 
might it contends against the religion of faith. On the other 
hand, Holy Scripture condemns as false all religions of works, 
just as it declares unregenerate human reason to be blind, dead, 
and absolutely unable to perceive the things of the Spirit of God, 
1 Cor. 2, 14. 


As we have seen, there are but two essentially different re- 
ligions, the religion of faith, or of the Gospel, and the religion of 
works, or of the Law. So also there are but two actual sources 
(principia cognoscendi, principles of knowledge) from which these 
two divergent religions are taken. The religion of works is of 
human origin; it is a man-made religion, having its source and 
origin in the human heart, in which God has inscribed His divine 
Law, so that also the heathen, who have not the Word of God 
as set forth in Holy Scripture, Rom. 2, 14, "know the judgment of 
God" (dixaico/na, the norm of right, Rechtssatzung) , Rom. 1, 32, 
and "show the work of the Law written in their hearts," Rom. 2, 15. 
On the basis of the divine Law, inscribed in the human heart, 
conscience accuses and condemns man whenever he does wrong, 
and so he is burdened with the consciousness of guilt, "they are 



without excuse/' Rom. 1, 20, "their conscience also bearing wit- 
ness and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing 
one another," Rom. 2, 15. 

Thus condemned by his conscience, man seeks to reconcile the 
Deity by "good works," such as worship, sacrifices, etc. The 
Apology rightly says : "But works become conspicuous among men. 
Human reason naturally admires these, and because it sees only 
works and does not understand or consider faith, it dreams accord- 
ingly that these works merit remission of sins and justify. This 
opinion of the Law (haec opinio legis) inheres by nature in men's 
minds; neither can it be expelled, unless when we are divinely 
taught. But the mind must be recalled (revocanda mens est) from 
such carnal opinions of the Word of God." (Art. Ill, 197.) 

The "opinion of the Law" of which the Apology here speaks, 
namely, the erroneous view that works merit remission of sins and 
justify the sinner, St. Paul calls "the religion of the flesh." So 
he writes to the Galatians, who sought justification on the ground 
of their merits : "Are ye so foolish ? Having begun in the Spirit, 
are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?" Gal. 3, 3. Luther correctly 
explains this passage as follows : "Here flesh is nothing else than 
the righteousness, the wisdom, of the flesh and the thoughts of 
reason, which endeavors to be justified by the Law." (St. L. Ed., 
IX, 288 ff.) That this is indeed the meaning of the word flesh in 
this passage the context clearly proves. The passage thus teaches 
the truth that every religion which seeks to acquire divine grace and 
remission of sins through human endeavors is not of God, but 
of man. Its source is the perverted, unregenerate heart. 

The religion of the Gospel, or of faith, on the contrary, is 
not of man, but of God, who has revealed it by His inspired 
prophets and apostles in Holy Scripture. 1 Cor. 2, 6 — 10 : "We 
speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom 
of this world; . . . but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, 
even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto 
our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew. . . . But 
as it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared 
for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us 
by His Spirit," etc. 

The religion of faith is therefore in the strictest sense of the 
term "wisdom of God," 1 Cor. 1, 24. It is "God-made," and its 
only source is God's Book, the inspired Scriptures, John 5, 39; 
Rom. 16, 25. 26; Eph. 2, 20; 1 John 1, 4. Quenstedt writes 



(I, 33) : "The sole, proper, adequate, and ordinary source of 
theology and of the Christian religion is the divine revelation con- 
tained in the Holy Scriptures ; or, what is the same, the canonical 
Scriptures alone are the absolute source of theology, so that out 
of them alone the articles of faith are to be deduced and proved." 
Again, I, 36 : "Divine revelation is the first and last source of 
sacred theology, beyond which theological discussion among Chris- 
tians dare not proceed." (Doctr. Theol., p. 127 ff.) This Scrip- 
tural truth must be maintained against every form of rationalism, 
by which at all times false teachers have sought to pervert the 
divine truth. Rationalistic doctrine (Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagi- 
anism, synergism, etc.) is not of God, but carnal, anti-Scriptural 
opposition to God. Essentially it is paganism, which destroys 
divine truth wherever it is accepted and allowed to hold sway in 
theology. Quenstedt is right when he writes (I, 38) : "Human or 
natural reason is not the source of theology and supernatural 
things." {Doctr. Theol, p. 28.) 

But neither is tradition a source of the Christian faith. Calov 
is fully in accord with Holy Scripture when he declares : "We con- 
tend that over and above the written Word of God there is at 
present no unwritten Word of God concerning any doctrine neces- 
sary to Christian faith and life, not comprehended in the Scrip- 
tures, that ever came forth from the apostles, was handed down by 
tradition, was preserved by the Church, and is to be received with 
equal reverence." (Doctr. Theol, p. 28.) This is truly Lutheran 
and Scriptural doctrine. We are to seek God's Word only in God's 
Book, never anywhere else, as also Quenstedt emphatically states 
when he writes (I, 44) : "The consent of the primitive Church or 
of the Fathers of the first centuries after Christ is not a source of 
Christian faith, neither primary nor secondary, nor does it produce 
a divine, but merely a human or probable belief." (Doctr. Theol, 
p. 28.) 

Lastly we must reject also the so-called private revelations as 
sources of faith; for, as Hollaz rightly points out, "after the 
completion of the canon of Scripture no new and immediate divine 
revelation was given to be a fundamental source of doctrine, 1 Cor. 
4, 6 ; Heb. 1, 1." (Doctr. Theol, p. 28.) 

The doctrine of a fixed revelation, that is, of a divine revela- 
tion given us only in the Word of Christ and His prophets and 
apostles, is plainly the doctrine of Scripture. Eph. 2, 20 : "And 
[ye] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 



Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone." For this 
reason Christian theology, on the basis of Holy Scripture, can 
acknowledge only one source and standard of true religion, namely, 
the inspired, infallible written Word of God, or Holy Scripture. 

The religion of faith dates back to the beginning of the Old 
Testament, since it was revealed to Adam and Eve immediately 
after the Fall, Gen. 3, 15. It was afterwards proclaimed con- 
tinually by the holy prophets and was truly believed by all the 
Old Testament saints. Gen. 15, 6 : "And he [Abram] believed in 
the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness." In the 
New Testament both Christ and His apostles constantly point back 
to the promises of faith revealed in the Old Testament. Luke 
24, 27 : "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He ex- 
pounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning 
Himself." Acts 10, 43 : "To Him give all the prophets witness 
that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him, shall receive 
remission of sins." Horn. 3, 21 : "But now the righteousness of 
God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law 
and the Prophets." Rom. 4, 3 : "Abraham believed God, and it 
was counted unto him for righteousness." All these passages con- 
firm the truth that also in the Old Testament men were saved 
solely through the true religion of faith in Christ. The divine 
Law never had the function to save sinners; its chief purpose is 
to convince sinners of their sin and guilt. Gal. 3, 24 : "Wherefore 
the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we 
might be justified by faith." Rom. 3, 20; 7, 7. 


Since all non-Christian religions are man-made, having their 
source in man's endeavor to earn remission of sins by works, it is 
not strange that they should appear in many and diverse forms. 
The Apology writes : "And because no works pacify the conscience, 
new works, in addition to God's commands, were from time to 
time devised (the hypocrites nevertheless used to invent one work 
after another, one sacrifice after another, by a blind guess and in 
reckless wantonness, and all this without the Word and command 
of God, with wicked conscience, as we have seen in the Papacy )/* 
(Art. Ill, 87.) This statement the Apology applies, first of all, to 
the papists, but it holds true with respect to all the religions of 
works. Just because the old works never pacify the guilty con- 
science, new works must be tried to effect a cure of the sin-troubled 





conscience; and so in all man-made religions there is an endless 
multiplication of "good works." 

However, while divisions may thus be expected among the 
adherents of man-made religions, one preferring this good work 
and another that, so that each pagan sect has its own forms of 
worship as well as its own gods, there ought not to be any divisions 
among the adherents of the religion of faith, since this religion has 
only one source of doctrine, namely, Holy Scripture, which by its 
divine message of grace satisfies the human heart and appeases 
the human conscience by offering free remission of sins to all who 
believe in Christ. In other words, Christians having the one Word 
of God and holding to the one faith in Christ ought not to be split 
into factions, or parties. 

In addition to this, Holy Scripture very sternly condemns all 
divisions, demanding that all believers should "endeavor to keep 
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," Eph. 4, 3. St. Paul 
6tates the reason for this demand very clearly when he adds 
(vv. 4 — 6) : "There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are 
called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one Bap- 
tism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all,, 
and in you all." The divisions existing at Corinth so horrified 
Paul that he wrote: "Is Christ divided?" 1 Cor. 1, 13. All be- 
lievers in Christ are equally members of His body, and so there is 
no cause whatever for any possible division in the Christian Church. 

Yet such divisions exist, and they have existed since the first 
proclamation of the Christian faith, so that there always have been 
sects within the visible Church. These divisions have been vari- 
ously explained by climatic or racial differences, under the plea 
that the peoples of the various zones are variously affected in their 
religious emotions. However, all these explanations are inadequate 
and even false; they are disproved by the simple fact that true 
believers in Christ who actually do keep the unity of the Spirit 
in the bond of peace are found the world over, no matter what 
kind of climatic or racial differences may exist among men. 

No indeed ! The origin and the existence of divisions within 
Christendom are to be attributed to more serious causes. Accord- 
ing to Holy Scripture they are due to false prophets and apostles, 
who, unfaithful to the pure Word of God, in the name of the 
Christian religion disseminate their own perverse notions and dis- 
card the specific beliefs of Christianity, above all the fundamental 
doctrine of the Gospel that man is justified by grace, through faith,. 



without the deeds of the Law. Such pseudapostles troubled even 
the churches founded by Paul and his colaborers. Rom. 16, 17: 
"I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and 
offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned ; and avoid 
them." 1 Cor. 14, 37 : "If any man think himself to be a prophet 
or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto 
you are the commandments of the Lord." Gal. 1, 6 — 8 : "I marvel 
that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the 
grace of Christ unto another gospel. . . . But there be some that 
trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though 
we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than 
that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." 
Phil. 3, 18 : "For many walk of whom I have told you often, and 
now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross 
of Christ." The malicious attempts of such pseudapostles to per- 
vert the Gospel of Christ, in particular the central doctrine of 
Christianity : salvation by grace alone, through faith in the 
vicarious atonement of the divine Eedeemer, explain for all time 
the existence of divisions within Christendom. 

The truth of this assertion becomes obvious when we examine 
the major divisions existing within the Christian Church: the 
Romani8tic division, the Reformed division, various divisions with- 
in the Lutheran Church, and the modern rationalistic schools of 
theology with their innumerable ramifications. 

The Roman Catholic Church, while in principle acknowl- 
edging the divine authority of Holy Scripture, nevertheless insists 
that the Bible must be interpreted according to the decisions 
of the Church, which, in the final analysis, are those of the Pope, 
who, as Luther points out in the Smalcald Articles (Part III, 
Art. VIII, 4), claims to have all rights within the shrine of his 
heart (in scrinio pectoris). The result of such interpretation of 
Holy Scripture according to the sense of the "holy Mother Church" 
(sancta mater ecclesia) is that the cardinal article of the Christian 
faith, the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith in 
Christ, is not only rejected, but expressly anathematized, so that 
all true Christians who base their hope of salvation solely on Christ 
Jesus and not also on their works and on the merits of the saints 
are pronounced accursed. (Council of Trent, Sess. VI, Cans. 11. 
12. 20.) Thus the Romanistic division, or sect, deprives the Chris- 
tian religion of its specific character and content, and its whole 
theology is, as St. Paul styles it, "a religion of the flesh." 



Romanism is built upon two fundamental errors, which Holy 
Scripture most stringently condemns: the infallibility of papal 
authority in religion and the meritoriousness of man's good works. 
It is above all these two errors that make the Church of Rome 
an antichristian sect. 

The Reformed faction likewise acknowledges the divine 
authority of Holy Scripture in principle. In fact, over against 
Lutheranism the Reformed Church makes the claim that it is 
"more exclusively Scriptural" than the Lutheran Church, which, 
it says, has always been inclined to be "historical" and "conserva- 
tive" in accord with the principle that church traditions and 
customs may be retained whenever they can be reconciled with 
the Word of God. But this distinction between Reformed and 
Lutheran theology is not based on facts. Reformed theology is 
not "more exclusively Scriptural" than Lutheran theology. On 
the contrary; while Romanistic theology demands the interpreta- 
tion of Holy Scripture according to the sancta mater ecclesia, 
Reformed theology insists that the Bible must be interpreted 
according to human reason, or according to rationalistic axioms. 

Thus, guided by rationalistic axioms, Reformed theology re- 
jects, first of all, the doctrine of the means of grace, that is, the 
doctrine that the Word of God and the Sacraments are the divinely 
ordained means by which the Holy Ghost directly works regenera- 
tion, conversion, and sanctification. The doctrine of the means of 
grace is clearly stated in Holy Scripture, Rom. 1, 16; Titus 3, 5. 6; 
Acts 2, 38, etc. But in opposition to this Scriptural truth Reformed 
theology asserts the rationalistic axiom that "efficacious grace acts 
immediately." In other words, Reformed theology separates the 
sanctifying operations of the Holy Ghost from the means of grace 
under the plea that the Holy Spirit needs no vehicle by which to 
enter the hearts of men. (Zwingli, Fidei Ratio; Calvin, Inst., IV, 
14. 17; Hodge, Syst.Theol., II, 684; etc.) It was this rational- 
istic axiom, consistently and strenuously applied, which caused the 
division between the Lutheran Church and the Reformed sects. 
Against Romanism, Luther had to defend the truth that the Word 
of God must not be perverted by the rationalistic views of the 
"Church"; against Zwinglianism he had to defend the truth that 
the Word of God must not be perverted by the rationalistic viewB 
of individual theologians. 

Again, Reformed theology applies a rationalistic principle 
when it treats the doctrines of the person of Christ and of the 



Lord's Supper. It emphatically denies the real presence of Christ's 
body in the Lord's Supper, maintaining that His presence in the 
Sacrament is only spiritual, that is, a presence effected by the faith 
of the believer. In other words, Christ is present in Holy Com- 
munion only to the extent that the believing communicant is 
united with Him by faith. This denial of the Real Presence 
is manifestly in opposition to the clear words of Christ's institution 
of the Holy Supper : "Take, eat ; this is My body." It rests solely 
on the rationalistic principle that Christ's body, being a truly 
human body and having as such only a visible and local mode of 
presence (visibUis et localis praesentia), cannot be truly present in 
the Lord's Supper because it is locally enclosed in heaven. That 
is to say, moved by human reason, Reformed theology denies the 
illocal mode of presence of Christ's body, taught in such passages 
as John 20, 19 : "When the doors were shut, . . . came Jesus and 
stood in the midst"; Luke 24, 31 : "And He vanished out of their 
6ight," etc. 

Holy Scripture ascribes this illocal presence of Christ's human 
nature to Him by virtue of the personal union with its resulting 
communion of the two natures and the communication of attri- 
butes. But on the basis of reason Reformed theology denies the 
communion of the two natures of Christ and the communication 
of attributes. It asserts that "the finite is not capable of the 
infinite." From this rationalistic principle follows another, 
namely, that Christ's body cannot have an illocal presence and 
since the Ascension is therefore enclosed in heaven. The split 
between Zwinglianism and Lutheranism must be attributed to the 
maintenance and defense of these two rationalistic axioms on the 
part of the former. Luther was unable to extend to Zwingli the 
hand of Christian fellowship at Marburg (1529) because the latter 
showed a "different spirit," namely, the spirit of rationalism, which 
is diametrically opposed to the Christian faith. 

Lastly, Calvinistic theology denies the universality of divine 
grace (gratia universalis) and teaches that the grace of God is par- 
ticular (gratia particularis), i. e., that it does not embrace all men, 
but the elect only, while all others are eternally predestinated to 
perdition. This doctrine is in direct opposition to Holy Scripture, 
which throughout affirms the universality of God's grace and, 
besides, asserts that the damnation of a sinner is not due to any 
failure on the part of God to provide for his salvation, John 1, 29 ; 
3, 16 ff.; 1 John 1, 2; 1 Tim. 2, 4—6; etc. On what grounds, 



then, does Reformed theology deny the universality of divine grace ? 
Here again it employs a rationalistic axiom as a premise on which 
to rest its false doctrine. The rationalistic principle is : "We must 
assume that the result is the interpretation of the purpose of God." 
(Hodge, Syst. TheoL, II, 323.) Reformed theology reasons thus: 
"Since actually not all are saved, we must assume that God did 
not intend to save all." In this way Calvinistic theology rejects 
Holy Scripture in favor of an argument drawn from reason, or 
a rationalistic axiom; and on this departure from the Word of 
God and its consequent enthronement of reason the Reformed fac- 
tion is founded. Just as soon as its theology ceases to be ration- 
alistic, it will also cease to be separatists. 

Within the pale of the Reformed denomination itself the strict 
Calvinistic doctrine of the particularity of divine grace has been 
emphatically denied by the Arminian party. Arminian theology 
denied the Calvinistic error that God from eternity has predeter- 
mined a certain number of men to damnation. However, on the 
other hand, Arminian theology erred by denying that grace alone 
( sola gratia ) saves sinners. Over against the doctrine of sola 
gratia, so clearly taught by Luther, it reasoned that man's conver- 
sion and salvation depends, at least to some extent, on his coopera- 
tion and the exercise of his free will. Calvinism denies the gratia 
universalis, while Arminianism denies the sola gratia. Thus also 
Arminianism is a departure from Holy Scripture, which ascribes 
man's conversion exclusively to divine monergism, Eph. 1, 19; 
Phil. 1, 29 ; 1 Cor. 1, 23 ; 2, 14. Arminianism simply revamped 
the error of Erasmus, who, Luther said, "seized him by the 
throat" when he taught that man by nature has the ability to apply 
himself to divine grace (facvltas se applicandi ad gratiam) and 
thus to cooperate in his conversion. 

What has just been said of Arminianism applies also with 
regard to synergism (an error taught within the Lutheran Church). 
Synergism also denies the sola gratia and affirms, in opposition to 
Holy Scripture, that man's conversion depends in part on his right 
conduct, self -decision, lesser guilt, etc. Synergism was introduced 
into Lutheran theology by Melanchthon, who maintained that there 
are three causes of salvation: the Holy Ghost, the Word of God, 
and man's assenting will. This doctrine is distinctly antichristian 
and, if actually believed, will prevent the sinner's conversion, since 
saving faith is engendered only in a contrite heart, which trusts 
for salvation alone in divine grace. If synergists are actually saved, 



it is only because they give up their false doctrine and cling solely 
to God's grace in Christ Jesus while smarting under the terrors of 
conscience (terror es conscientiae). It is said of Melanchthon that 
he personally did not believe his false doctrine; for invariably 
when imploring God as a penitent sinner, he appealed exclusively 
to divine grace for salvation. Nevertheless this influential teacher, 
by promulgating his synergistic errors, caused divisions within the 
Lutheran Church that did incalculable harm and are still troubling 
the Church in many ways. Thus also within Lutheran Christen- 
dom divisions and offenses have been caused by manifest departures 
from Holy Scripture. 

Finally we may speak of the divisions within Christendom 
that owe their origin to modern "scientific theology." Modern 
rationalistic theology, which dates back t6 Schleiermacher and 
Eitschl, denies the Christian doctrine that Holy Scripture is God's 
own, infallible Word and hence discards it as the only source and 
norm of doctrine. It thus rejects the only principle by which the 
Christian Church may preserve its inherent and essential unity; 
for the unity of the Church does not consist in external forms, but 
in doctrinal agreement, which must necessarily cease if Holy 
Scripture is rejected as the only norm of faith. 

Modern theology suggests as norms of faith the "Christian 
experience," "Christian consciousness," "the regenerate heart," etc. ; 
but all these "norms" in the final analysis coincide with carnal 
reason, which by its very nature is in opposition to divine truth. 
This is conclusively proved by the results, found everywhere where 
the "norms" just named have been adopted. Thus modern ration- 
alistic theology unanimously denies the cardinal doctrine of justi- 
fication by grace, through faith, teaching in its place the paganistic 
doctrine of salvation by work-righteousness. Again, it denies the 
fundamental Christian doctrine of the divine inspiration of Holy 
Scripture and consequently also its inerrancy. Thus it rejects the 
two distinctive articles of the Christian faith and causes divisions 
and offenses contrary to the teachings of Christ and His apostles. 
The Christian Church demands of modern theology that it must 
surrender its opposition to Holy Scripture as the only source and 
norm of faith and to the vicarious atonement of Christ as the only 
means of a sinner's justification. And that is Christ's own demand, 
John 8,31.32; 1 Pet. 4, 11. 

The point, then, is clear: Divisions within Christendom owe 
their origin and existence to actual departure from Holy Scripture 



and its divine doctrines. Wherever they exist, they may be traced 
to the perversion and rejection of divine truth and must be con- 
demned as the vicious work of Satan and his false prophets. 

The confessional Lutheran Church itself has been styled a 
"sect" within Christendom by non-Lutheran writers. But no charge 
is more unjust than that. The charge is due to a complete mis- 
understanding of the Reformation. The Lutheran Reformation 
was not an effort to found a new sect, or division, within Christen- 
dom, but to restore the corrupted Church to its ancient apostolic 
purity in doctrine and practise. The confessional Lutheran Church 
is therefore the ancient Church of Christ and His apostles, purified 
from the corruptions of papistical errors and restored on the basis 
of Holy Scripture. Its character is truly ecumenical; for its doc- 
trines are not peculiar views and tenets, distinct from those of the 
Apostolic Church, but the very doctrines around which the ancient 
ecumenical creeds of Christendom center. Its theology is that of 
the Holy Bible, and of the Bible alone; its doctrine is the divine 
truth of God's Word. The Lutheran Church is therefore the 
orthodox visible Church of Christ on earth. This is both its claim 
and its glory, and it challenges every charge of sectarianism made 
against it. 

We freely admit of course that also within the Lutheran 
Church divisions have been caused by departures, both in doctrine 
and in practise, from Holy Scripture and from the Lutheran Con- 
fessions. Hence, when we use the term Lutheran Church, we do 
not include those divisions, or parties, but refer exclusively to that 
Lutheran Church or those Lutheran churches which are thoroughly 
Scriptural and thoroughly Lutheran both in doctrine and in 
practise. In other words, the Lutheran Church is that Church 
which stands four-square on the principles of the Reformation. 

With regard to Christian unity it must be emphatically stated 
that this is not the work of man, but of divine grace, John 17, 
11 — 15.20.21; Ps. 86, 11; etc. Human influence, wisdom, and 
ingenuity do not suffice to preserve the unity of faith or doctrine. 
That precious boon is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who graciously 
bestows and maintains it through the Word of God. For this 
reason all Christians must diligently pray for the unity of the 
Spirit and zealously use the means of grace, by which alone it is 
preserved. For wherever the Word of God is despised or rejected, 
no true unity of faith can prevail. Christians remain united in 
the faith only as long as they stand united upon God's pure Word. 




The Christian religion is the absolute religion, inasmuch as 
it is absolutely perfect, neither requiring, nor being capable of, 
improvement or development. It is God-given (dedodorog) and 
therefore precisely as God would have it to accomplish its 
beneficent purpose of saving sinners. When we ascribe to the 
Christian religion perfection or absoluteness, we do not mean to 
say that it is a "logically complete whole" (ein logisch vollJcom- 
menes Oanzes) or a logically complete and perfect system, in which 
there are no missing links of thought. The Christian's knowledge, 
the apostle says, and he includes his own, is but fragmentary. 
1 Cor. 13,12: "Now I know in part." What Christianity knows 
of divine wisdom through revelation is only a part of the un- 
searchable knowledge of God. 

Again, the Christian religion is not perfect, or absolute, in 
the sense of constituting the best system of morality (die voll- 
kommenste Moral), although that, of course, is true. The moral 
theology of Holy Scripture is indeed perfect, for it centers in, and 
aims at, perfect love of God and the neighbor, Matt. 22, 37 — 40. 
Both its demand and its goal are perfect love, Matt. 5, 48 : "Be ye 
therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." 
But this perfect morality does not constitute the essence of the 
Christian religion; it is rather the effect, or fruit, of the Chris- 
tian faith, which the Holy Spirit implants in the human heart 
through the means of grace, or, as we may say briefly, it is the 
result of Christianity, not Christianity itself, 1 John 4, 9 — 21; 
Rom. 12, 1. 

Nevertheless the Christian religion is absolute, that is, alto- 
gether perfect and unsurpassable. There are two reasons for this. 
In the first place, the Christian religion is not a moral code, teach- 
ing men how they may reconcile God by good works, but it is 
divine faith in the amazing fact that God through Christ "recon- 
ciled the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto 
them," 2 Cor. 5, 19. In that sense the Christian religion is abso- 
lute, that is, perfect and unsurpassable; for through the Gospel of 
Christ it offers to sinful mankind a perfect and incomparable 
reconciliation, effected through the vicarious atonement of the Son 
of God, the divine Redeemer of the world, who for us and in our 
stead satisfied the demands of divine justice (active obedience) and 
paid the penalty of sin (passive obedience), Gal. 4, 4. 5; 3, 13; 
Is, 53; 2 Cor. 5, 21. Every sinner who believes this reconciliation, 



or forgiveness of sin, is justified, or declared righteous, by grace, 
without the deeds of the Law, Acts 26, 18; Luke 24, 46. 47 ; Rom. 
10, 17; 1 Cor. 2, 4. 5; Eom. 3, 28; 5, 1. That is the glorious 
gift which Christianity freely offers to all sinners. It announces to 
lost mankind that God by grace imputes to sinful man, who in 
himself is ungodly and condemned, the perfect righteousness of 
Christ through faith or that He covers the unrighteousness of the 
penitent believer with the perfect righteousness of His divine Son, 
Jesus Christ. Bom. 4, 5 : "To him that worketh not, but believeth 
on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for right- 
eousness." 1 John 2, 2 : "He [Christ] is the Propitiation for our 
sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole 
world." That is the wonderful absoluteness, or perfection, of the 
Christian religion: it proffers perfect reconciliation and salvation 
by grace and puts the believer into perfect and complete possession 
of God's choicest gifts — His divine grace, His complete pardon, 
His peace, which passes all understanding, in short, spiritual and 
eternal life. Thus Christianity fully accomplishes what religion 
should accomplish — it reunites sinful mankind with the holy God 
and restores to him all that he has lost through sin. Col. 2, 
10 — 14: "And ye are complete" (perfect, itteioi), "in Him," etc. 

It goes without saying that the Christian religion is abso- 
lute, or perfect, only if it is preserved in its purity, that is to say, 
if its character as a religion of grace and faith is fully maintained, 
or if its central doctrine of justification by grace, through faith 
in the vicarious atonement of Christ, is retained unadulterated. 
If this chief doctrine of the Christian religion is perverted or re- 
moved, then Christianity becomes dechristianized, a neopagan 
religion, unworthy of the name it bears, and incapable of saving 
sinners. Thus Romanism, which teaches justification through 
"infused grace" (gratia infiisa) and consequently by "good 
works" (Council of Trent, Sess. VI, Cans. 11. 12. 20), paganizes 
Christianity in its central teaching, and the result is that the 
sinner fails to obtain divine pardon and, besides, is burdened with 
the curse of uncertainty (monstrum incertitudinis) as to his state 
of grace. Gal. 5, 4 : "Christ is become of no effect unto you who- 
soever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace." 

Similarly the doctrine of justification by grace, through faith 
in Christ, is corrupted by the rationalistic Protestant theologians 
of to-day, who reject the Scriptural doctrine of Christ's vicarious 
atonement and in its place inculcate their own erroneous "theories 



of atonement." They, too, deny the central Gospel truth that 
men are justified by faith alone, and through their man-made 
theories of atonement they paganize the Christian religion. (The 
Moral Example Theory: Christ's death should induce men to 
repent, reform and mend their conduct. The Oovemtnental 
Theory: Christ died simply to show erring man that sin is dis- 
pleasing in God's sight, since God's government of the world neces- 
sitates such manifestation of wrath against sin. The Declaratory 
Theory: Christ died to show how much God loves man, etc.) The 
central article of Christianity is likewise denied and perverted by 
all Pelagians, Arminians, and synergists, who maintain that man's 
salvation depends, at least in part, on his good conduct and works. 
The Christian religion, if so perverted, is deprived of its very 
essence and is therefore no longer absolute, or perfect, since in its 
paganized form it is unable to save sinners. 

In the second place, the Christian religion is absolute, that is, 
perfect and unsurpassable, because its source and norm is not the 
fallible word of erring men, but the infallible Word of the in- 
arrant God, as this is set forth in Holy Scripture, John 10, 35 ; 
2 Tim. 3, 15—17; 1 Pet. 1, 10—12; Eph. 2, 20. Since Holy 
Scripture is divinely inspired, it is the absolute divine truth, 
John 17, 17 ; and the Christian religion, which is drawn from this 
absolute truth, is the only true religion, whereas all other religions, 
falsely so called, are in fact not religions at all. This fact must 
be given great emphasis to-day; for at present unionistic and 
syncretistic tendencies are very strong even in Christian circles, 
and norms outside of, and contrary to, Holy Scripture are so 
readily adopted. Holy Scripture is the only norm of faith, and 
only that is true religion which is true Scripture-teaching. 

This truth we stoutly affirm not only against Modernism, 
which rejects Holy Scripture altogether, but also against modern 
rationalizing theology, which establishes as norms, besides Holy 
Scripture, such things as "Christian consciousness," "Christian, 
conviction," "Christian experience," etc., and no less against 
Romanism, which declares tradition to be a source and rule of 
faith. In short, all who desire to maintain the Christian religion 
as the absolute religion must adhere to both the doctrine of justifi- 
cation by grace, through faith in the vicarious atonement of Christ, 
and to the doctrine that Holy Scripture, as the inspired, inerrant 
Word of God, is the only source and standard of faith. The 
Christian religion is absolute only if it is presented and taught 
as God Himself has given it to us in His Word. 



The Christian religion was given to sinful mankind imme- 
diately after the Fall and was then, as it is now, the only absolute 
religion because it alone offered to, and bestowed upon, men sal- 
vation from sin through faith in the divinely appointed Eedeemer 
of the world, Gen. 3, 15; Acts 10, 43. Throughout the Old Testa- 
ment the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed no less than in the 
New Testament, John 5, 39 ; 8, 56 ; Acts 10, 43, although in the 
New Testament the preaching of the Gospel is clearer and more 
complete than in the Old Testament. When Holy Scripture speaks 
of the abrogation of the Old and the institution of the New Testa- 
ment, this does not refer to the preaching of the Gospel, which 
is the essence of Christianity, but to the Mosaic covenant of the 
Law, which has been abolished by the coming of Christ, Jer. 31, 
31—34 ; Heb. 8, 6—13 ; Gal. 3, 17 ff. ; Col. 2, 16. Thus, while in 
the Old Testament divine revelation was progressive in the sense 
that the message of Christ's coming and redemption was announced 
ever more clearly and fully, the religion which God gave to 
Adam and Eve after the Fall was from the very beginning abso- 
lute, that is, perfect and complete, because it was adequate to ac- 
complish the salvation of sinners. The claim that the Old Testa- 
ment presents to us essentially different religions, such as the 
patriarchal, the Mosaic, the prophetic, etc., is unfounded and con- 
tradicts the incontestable statements of Holy Scripture, Acta 
15,10.11; Rom. 4, 3 — 6; Heb. 11. Christ was always the only 
Savior of all sinners, and no one has ever been saved except 
through faith in Him. Acts 4, 12 : "Neither is there salvation in 
any other; for there is none other name under heaven given 
among men whereby we must be saved." 

In view of the fact that the Christian religion is the only true- 
religion, it is incorrect to speak of it as "the highest religion" or 
"the most perfect religion" or "the climax of all religions," etc. 
Such superlatives express only a difference in degree, whereas the 
difference between Christianity and all other religions so called is 
one of kind. Christianity is a God-made religion; all others are 
man-made. For this reason it is objectionable also to say that 
Christianity offers to man "the highest satisfaction." As a matter 
of fact, Christianity alone offers satisfaction to sinful men, since it 
alone conveys and seals to them the grace of God, forgiveness of 
sins, and life eternal. The character of absoluteness belongs only 
to the religion of Jesus Christ. 

When the question is considered as to what constitutes the 



essential difference between the Old and the New Testament, we 
must seek the difference not in the religion itself, but in the acci- 
dental feature of greater clearness and fulness. Essentially the 
two are the same. The doctrinal content does not differ; for in 
both we find the same Moral Law, and the same Gospel-message, 
that sinners are saved alone by God's grace in His Son, our Savior. 
This is attested by Christ Himself, who not only declared the Old 
Testament to be the divine truth, John 5,45 — 47; 10,35; 5,39, 
but also affirmed that He is the Christ of the Old Testament, Luke 
24, 25 — 27. Our divine Lord became incarnate not to teach a new 
religion, but to fulfil the Old Testament prophecies concerning 
Himself and by His holy suffering and death to secure the salva- 
tion promised by the prophets, Matt. 5, 17 — 19; Rom. 3, 28 — 31; 
Col. 2, 10 — 14. As Christ, so also the apostles, especially St. Paul, 
declared the Old Testament Scriptures to be able to make believers 
wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. 
3, 15 — 17. Likewise St. Paul expressly teaches that the doctrine of 
justification by grace, through faith, is not a new doctrine, but the 
doctrine proclaimed by the prophets in the Old Testament and 
believed by all Old Testament believers, Eom. 3, 21. 22 ; chap. 4. 
From all this it is obvious that the religion of the Old Testament 
is essentially the Christian religion, which by its very nature is 
perfect and unsurpassable, or the absolute religion of God. 


There are theologians who suggest the following distinction 
between Christian religion and Christian theology. They say that 
the Christian religion in its subjective sense is the knowledge of 
God which is possessed by every Christian believer, while Christian 
theology in its subjective sense is the knowledge of God which is 
possessed by the official teachers of the Church. Eightly under- 
stood, this distinction may be accepted; for Holy Scripture, while 
teaching that all believers possess knowledge of God, emphasizes 
the fact that the official teachers of the Church must possess knowl- 
edge of God in a higher degree, John 6, 45 ; 1 Cor. 12, 29 ; 1 Tim. 
3, 2 ; 2 Tim. 2, 1. In these passages it is taught that, while be- 
lievers are "all taught of God," yet they are not "all teachers" and 
that bishops, or ministers, must be "apt to teach" and must there- 
fore have the doctrines of God's Word committed unto them in 
such a way that they "shall be able to teach others." — Neverthe- 
less it must be maintained that there is no essential difference 



between religion and theology. Both have the same principle 
(principium cognoscendi) , or source, namely, Holy Scripture, and 
both are received in one and the same manner, namely, through 
faith in the Word of God. John 8, 31. 32 : "If ye continue in My 
Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the 

We hold, then, that both the religious and the theological 
knowledge are fundamentally the same and are obtained by the 
same method, namely, through the believing study of, and prayerful 
meditation upon, God's Word. Whatever is not taken from, or 
whatever goes beyond, Holy Scripture is neither religion nor 
theology, but human speculation. Quod non est bihlicum, non 
est theologicum. This truth must be held over against all ration- 
alistic theologians, who assert that Christian theology is something 
that lies beyond the Christian religion as basically different from it, 
and in particular, that the Christian theologian intellectually com- 
prehends the mysteries of faith, whereas the ordinary Christian 
believer merely accepts them by faith. That such views are 
disastrous both to religion and theology requires no further proof. 
As a matter of fact, Christian theology is not a speculative system 
of philosophy, the substance of which lies within human intellec- 
tual comprehension; but it is "the wisdom of God in a mystery," 
1 Cor. 2, 7. (The meaning of Paul's statement is evidently: "In 
speaking the wisdom of God, we proclaim a mystery.") For this 
reason a childlike faith in God's Word is essential no less to the 
Christian theologian than to the ordinary Christian believer. 
A theologian is a Christian theologian only inasmuch as he im- 
plicitly believes in Christ and unconditionally accepts His Word. 


Etymologically considered, the term theology may be defined 
as "the Word concerning God" (Xoyog negl &eov). In the subjec- 
tive sense the term denotes the knowledge of God ( Gottesgelahrt- 
heit ) as it inheres in the theologian ; in its objective sense it desig- 
nates the doctrine concerning God as it is presented in a book or 
treatise. (Cp. the meaning of psychology, physiology, biology, 
geology, etc.) Thomas Aquinas summarizes the meaning and 
function of theology as follows: "Theologia a Deo docetur, Deum 
docet et ad Deum ducit" The name God in connection with Aoyog, 
however, always denotes the object, so that theology in its objec- 
tive sense is properly the doctrine which teaches God (Deum docet). 



The term theology in its common significance (usus loquendi) 
does not occur in Holy Scripture. It is therefore a "vox non 
eyygacpog, sed &yga<pog, quamvis non d.vxiyQa<pos" that is to say, 
a term used not in, but outside Scripture, yet one that is not against 
Scripture. The heading of St. John's Revelation, 'AjioxdAvxptg 
'Icodvvov tov deoXoyov, as Gerhard correctly points out, was not 
selected by the author of that book, but was added by later copyists. 
This fact proves that the term theology was widely used already 
by the earliest Christian writers and was quite generally understood 
also in its specific meaning. However, the term theology was used 
also by non-Christian authors, and this fact must not surprise us, 
since man by nature has a certain knowledge of God, the divine 
Law being inscribed in his heart, Eom. 1 and 2. Pagan writers 
applied the term theology to the doctrine of God as this was taught 
by their poets and philosophers, whom some styled theologians. 
Thus Aristotle says of Thales and of the philosophers before Thales, 
who speculated on the origin of things, that they theologized 
{&EoXoyY)oavri<;). Cicero declares expressly : "Principio loves tres 
numerant, qui theologi nominantur." (Cp. Aristotle, Metaph., 
I, 3; Cicero, De Natura Deorum, III, 21.) 

Nevertheless the term theology has not always been used in 
the same sense. This varying use of the term need not give us 
any concern since the word itself does not occur in Holy Scripture 
and may therefore be employed in sacred theology in different sig- 
nifications, as long as it is not made to represent something that 
in itself is condemned by God's Word. The concepts which it is 
made to express should themselves be Scriptural. The term is 
used correctly and in accordance with Holy Scripture if it de- 
notes — 

1. The particular knowledge of God which those possess 
who are called to administer the public ministry, in other words, 
the special knowledge of pastors and teachers of the Church, 
1 Tim. 3, 2 ; 

2. The particular knowledge of God which is demanded of 
those who are called to prepare Christian ministers and teachers 
for their high calling, or the special knowledge of theological pro- 
fessors, 2 Tim. 2, 2 ; 

3. The general knowledge of God which all true believers pos- 
sess, especially the experienced Christians, whose knowledge of 
spiritual matters has been deepened by much prayerful meditation 
and practical experience in their profession of Christ, so that they 



themselves, in their limited sphere, are competent to teach others, 
1 Pet. 3, 15; Col. 3, 16; 

4. The special knowledge of certain parts of the Christian 
doctrine, in particular, the doctrine of the deity of Christ and of 
the Trinity. Thus Gregory Nazianzen (died ca. 390) was called 
6 deoXoyos because he defended the deity of Christ with special 
distinction. And Basilius applied the term theology to the doc- 
trine of the Holy Trinity. (Cp. Pieper, Christliche Dogmatik, 
Vol. I, p. 47.) 

As the term is applied generally, it denotes in its abstract 
sense, or objectively, either the entire Christian doctrine (usus 
generalis) or the particular doctrine concerning God (usus 

If the term theology is employed in the above significations, 
it is used in conformity with Holy Scripture and therefore cor- 
rectly. But if it is applied to any doctrine that goes beyond Scrip- 
ture or to a system of doctrine that is not exclusively based on 
Scripture, but rather on "Christian consciousness," "Christian 
experience," "Christian tradition," etc., it is misapplied. For 
whatever is not drawn from Scripture is not theology at all, but 
human speculation, and that after all is nothing else than error 
and delusion, 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4 : "knowing nothing." 

In this treatise we use the term theology both subjectively, 
or concretely, to denote the spiritual ability (Ixavoitjs, habitus) to 
teach and defend the Word of God, in short, to administer the 
functions of the Christian ministry in the true Scriptural manner 
(2 Cor. 3, 5. 6), and objectively, or abstractly, for the Christian 
doctrine, either in whole or in part, presented either orally or in 
writing, 2 Tim. 1, 13. Both uses are Scriptural. Subjective, or 
concrete, theology is the spiritual habitude of the Christian 
teacher; objective, or abstract, theology is the product, or result, 
of this ability. Also, we hold that the first meaning of the term 
is the primary, since theology must first be found in the soul of 
a person before that person can teach and present it either by word 
or in writing. If we call the product of the inherent ability 
theology, this is done by way of metonymy, the effect being named 
after the cause. For the Christian theologian this distinction is 
of paramount importance because it constantly reminds him that 
studying theology means not simply the intellectual apprehension 
of a number of facts, but the true regeneration, conversion, and 
sanctification of his own heart, from which his whole ministerial 
service must flow. 



Dr. A. L. Graebner, in his Outlines of Doctrinal Theology 
(p. 1), defines theology in its subjective, or concrete, sense as 
follows : "Theology is a practical habitude of the mind, comprising 
the knowledge and acceptance of divine truth, together with an 
aptitude to instruct others toward such knowledge and acceptance 
and to defend such truth against its adversaries." Theology in its 
objective, or abstract, sense he defines (p. 2) as "an oral or written 
exhibition of the truths, doctrines, principles, etc., by virtue of 
the knowledge, acceptance, maintenance, and practical application 
of which a theologian is a theologian." 


Theology as a habitude, or ability, is described in all those 
Scripture-passages which depict the character and qualifications 
of the true Christian minister, who, in the sense of Holy Scripture, 
is a true theologian, possessing the ability (Ixavojrjs, sufficiency) 
to administer the functions of the ministry in the divinely ap- 
pointed manner. On the basis of Holy Scripture we may therefore 
describe the theological habitude as follows : — 

a. The theological habitude is a spiritual habitude (habitus 
spiritualis, supernaturalis), that is to say, an ability which is im- 
planted in the soul not by natural gifts, but by the Holy Ghost. 
It presupposes personal faith in Christ's vicarious atonement and 
consequently the regeneration, or conversion, of the theologian. 
Unbelieving ministers or teachers do not deserve the name of 
theologian ; and in the sense of Holy Scripture they are not theo- 
logians, though they may have apprehended the doctrines of the 
Word of God intellectually and be able to present them clearly 
and correctly. In other words, there is no theologia irregenitorum, 
or theology of the unregenerate, since the souls of the unconverted 
and unbelieving are not inhabited and actuated by the Holy Ghost, 
but by the "prince of this world," that is, Satan. Eph. 2, 2: 
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this 
world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit 
that now worketh in the children of disobedience.^ Holy Scripture 
always describes a true minister of Christ as a penitent, believing 
child of God, who ascribes to divine grace both his sufficiency and 
his call into the ministry. 2 Cor. 3, 5 : "Not that we are sufficient 
of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves ; but our sufficiency 
is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testa- 
ment." 2 Tim. 2, 1 ff. : "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ 




Jesus," etc. A true minister of Christ, or theologian, is therefore 
a sanctified believer. 1 Tim. 3,2 ff. : "A bishop must be blame- 
less, ... of good behavior, . . . apt to teach," etc. 

Unbelieving and unregenerate ministers hold their sacred 
office not by God's will, but only by His permission. Although 
their personal unbelief does not render inefficacious the Word they 
preach and the Sacraments they administer, provided they preach 
the Word of God in truth and purity and administer the Sacra- 
ments according to Christ's institution, yet the incumbency and 
administration of the sacred office by hypocrites greatly dishonors 
the Lord and is an offense to the Church and a perpetual menace 
to the faith and piety of their hearers. Jer. 14, 14 — 16 : "The 
prophets prophesy lies in My name. I sent them not, neither have 
I commanded them. ... By sword and famine shall those prophets 
be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast 
out in the streets." Cp. also Jer. 23, 11—32; Ezek. 13, 3—9; etc. 

It was this important truth, namely, that a true theologian 
is a sincere believer, that prompted our dogmaticians to describe 
theology, first of all, as a habitus spiritualis vel supernaturalis 
(faoodoxog), conferred by the Holy Spirit through the Word of 
God. Baier thus writes (I, 69) : "Theology is by its very nature 
a supernatural habitude, acquired not by any powers of our own, 
but by the powers of grace through the operation of the Holy 
Ghost." He adds that all theology which is not wrought by the 
Holy Ghost is so called only in an improper sense. (Ita nonnisi 
aequivoce dicta theologia est.) So also Luther writes: "A doc- 
tor of Holy Scripture no one can make for you except the 
Holy Spirit from heaven, as Christ says, John 6, 45 : 'And they 
shall be all taught of God.'" (St. L., X, 399.) The spiritual 
habitude of theology implies also faith in Holy Scripture as the 
divinely inspired, infallible Word of God; and this faith, too, is 
the work and gift of the Holy Ghost. 

b. The theological habitude further includes the ability to 
refrain from all human opinions and thoughts on God and divine 
things, to draw all doctrines from Holy Scripture, and thus to 
teach nothing but God's Word. John 8, 31. 32 : "If ye continue in 
My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed." St. Paul writes to 
Timothy, 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4 : "If any man teach otherwise and consent 
not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, 
knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words." 



That the "words of our Lord Jesus Christ" are not merely the 
words which our Savior Himself spoke during His sojourn on 
earth, but all the inspired writings of the prophets and the apostles, 
is proved by various passages, John 17, 20 ; 1 Pet. 1, 10 — 12 ; Eph. 
2, 20 ; etc. These passages disqualify and bar all teachers of the 
Church who, while rejecting Holy Scripture as the sole source and 
norm of faith, draw their doctrines from false sources, such as 
"Christian traditions," the "regenerate heart," "Christian con- 
sciousness," "private revelations," "Christian experience," etc. 
Luther, in his exposition of Jer. 23, 16, correctly remarks : "Behold, 
all prophets who do not preach out of the mouth of God deceive, 
and God forbid that we should hear them." (St. L., XIX, 821.) 

c. The theological habitude includes, moreover, the ability to 
teach the whole Word of God as it is set forth in Holy Scripture. 
In order to attest his ministerial faithfulness, St. Paul said to the 
elders of Ephesus, Acts 20, 27 : "I have not shunned to declare 
unto you all the counsel of God." Christian ministers must pro- 
claim the whole Word of God in its truth and purity to be "pure 
from the blood of all men," as St. Paul witnesses concerning him- 
self, Acts 20, 26 : "Wherefore I take you to record this day that 
I am pure from the blood of all men." It is for this very 
reason that the apostle so earnestly admonishes Timothy, 1 Tim. 
4, 16 : "Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in 
them; for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them 
that hear thee." A Christian teacher should therefore "take heed 
unto the doctrine," study it with great zeal and diligence, preach it 
fully and without admixture of human opinion, and thus prove 
himself faithful by presenting to his hearers all the doctrines of 
God's Word. Matt. 28, 20 : "Teaching them to observe all things 
whatsoever I have commanded you." 1 Cor. 4, 2 : "Moreover, it is 
required in stewards that a man be found faithful." Jer. 48, 10 : 
"Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully" (mar- 
ginal note: "negligently"). Such ability, however, is not of man's 
own power, but of God. 

d. The theological habitude implies also the ability to convince 
the gainsayers. Titus 1, 9 : "Holding fast the faithful Word as he 
hath been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to 
exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Holy Scripture never pro- 
hibits polemics, but rather commands it, since controversy, if car- 
ried on in the commendable spirit of Christian charity, is never 
destructive, but highly profitable to the Church. Every kind 



of polemics that is prompted by, and exhibits, a carnal, factious 
spirit is, of course, an abuse of Christian controversy and is there- 
fore forbidden. Titus 3, 9 : "But avoid foolish questions and gen- 
ealogies and contentions and strivings about the Law; for they are 
unprofitable and vain." 2 Cor. 10, 3 : (r For though we walk in the 
flesh, we do not war after the flesh." Again, true polemics requires 
not only the refutation of false doctrine, but also the clear and 
Scriptural presentation of the true doctrine in order that the oppo- 
nent may be won over to the divine truth; for this, after all, is 
the final purpose of all true polemics, that falsehood may be elimi- 
nated and divine truth be received. Toleration of false doctrine 
within the Church is unfaithfulness to God's Word and therefore 
unfaithfulness to God Himself, who has entrusted His truth to the 
care of His Church, Matt. 28, 19. 20. 

For this reason also the ministry of Christ and His apostles 
was largely spent in polemics; for while they were teaching the 
truth, they always testified against error. Matt. 7, 15: "Beware of 
false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing; but in- 
wardly they are ravening wolves." Horn. 16, 17: "I beseech you, 
brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary 
to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." False 
doctrine is so pernicious and so displeasing to God that He de- 
mands not only the refutation of all error, but also the excom- 
munication of the errorist in case he proves himself a heretic. 
Eom. 16, 17: "And avoid them." 2 John 10: "If there come any 
unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your 
house, neither bid him Godspeed." Clearly and emphatically Holy 
Scripture rejects every form of syncretism, or unionism. 

No matter what the motives may be that induce men to depart 
from Holy Scripture and to cause divisions and offenses contrary to 
the truth of God's Word, they must all be condemned as carnal 
and sinful. There are no "noble" motives for causing divisions 
within the Church ; they are all equally reprehensible and ungodly. 
Holy Scripture describes them as follows: belly service, Eom. 
16, 18; pride, 1 Tim. 6,4; the inordinate desire for honor, John 
5,44; unwillingness to suffer for Christ's sake, Gal. 6, 12; envy, 
Matt. 27, 18; perversity, 1 Tim. 6,4; John 16,3; 1 Tim. 1,13; 
the personal vanity and viciousness of theologians, 2 Tim. 3, 
1 — 9; etc. "Many heresies have arisen in the Church only from 
the hatred of the teachers/' (Apology, III, 121.) Divisions within 
the Church are therefore not pleasing to God, nor do they exist by 



the will of God, but they are God's just punishment upon those who 
do not love the truth. 2 Thess. 2, 10 — 12 : "Because they received 
not the love of the truth that they might be saved, for this cause 
God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, 
that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had 
pleasure in unrighteousness." 

e. The theological habitude lastly embraces the ability to 
suffer for the sake of Christ and His Word. 2 Tim. 2, 3 : "Thou 
therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" ; v. 9 : 
"Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer, even unto bonds. But 
the Word of God is not bound." The suffering of Christians in 
general and of Christian ministers in particular is caused by the 
world's hatred of, and contempt for, God's Word. 1 Cor. 1, 23 : 
"We preach Christ Crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block and 
unto the Greeks foolishness." The result of the world's antagonism 
to the Gospel of Christ is described by our Savior as follows : "Ye 
shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake," Matt. 24, 9. 
Unwillingness to suffer for the Gospel's sake leads to compromises 
with error, to the denial of divine truth, and in the end to apostasy 
from divine grace. 2 Tim. 2, 12 : "If we suffer, we shall also reign 
with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us." Unless the 
Christian, and above all the Christian theologian, is ready for 
Christ's sake to renounce ease and friendship, to take upon himself 
loss of honor and property, and even to lay down his life for the 
sake of divine truth, he cannot serve his Master as this is required 
of him. 

The theological habitude (habitus practicus deoodorog), then, 
is the ability, divinely bestowed, to teach the pure and unadul- 
terated Word of God, to declare the whole counsel of God unto 
salvation, to oppose and refute false doctrine, and to suffer for 
Christ's sake all the consequences which the proclamation of the 
Word of God entails. 


As theology in its subjective sense is the habitude, or ability, 
to teach the Word of God as set forth in Holy Scripture in all its 
truth and purity, 60 Christian theology in its objective sense, or 
conceived as doctrine, is nothing more and nothing less than the 
true and pure presentation of the doctrine of Holy Scripture. 
1 Pet. 4, 11 : "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of 
God." Titus 2, 7 — 10: "In doctrine showing uncorruptness, 
gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned, . . . 



showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God, 
our Savior, in all things." The claim of being a Christian theo- 
logian may be properly made only by him who teaches nothing but 
Scripture doctrine. 

This doctrine, however, is not drawn or developed from human 
reason, but is taken in all its parts solely from Holy Scripture. 
The function of the Christian theologian therefore consists merely 
in grouping in distinct paragraphs and chapters and under proper 
heads the various teachings which Holy Scripture inculcates in its 
several passages on one given subject. If he applies synthesis and 
analysis, it is merely in the formal arrangement of the various 
Scripture doctrines. So far as the doctrines themselves are con- 
cerned, he allows them to stand, neither adding thereto nor taking 
away from them, no matter whether they appear consistent with 
reason and experience or not. In this way the Christian theologian 
secures his "system of doctrine" or his "dogmatic theology." 

In accord with this principle the Lutheran theologian Pfeiffer 
writes (Thes. Herm., p. 5) : "Positive theology [dogmatic the- 
ology], rightly estimated, is nothing else than Holy Scripture 
itself, arranged under proper heads in clear order; wherefore no 
member whatsoever, not even the least, must be found in that body 
of doctrine which cannot be supported from Holy Scripture, rightly 
understood." (Baier, I, 43. 76.) Luther very aptly calls all true 
theologians "catechumens and disciples of the prophets, because 
they repeat and preach only what they have heard and learned 
from the prophets and apostles." (St. L., Ill, 1890.) This faith- 
ful repetition (Nachsagen) of the teachings of the prophets and 
apostles by the Christian theologian is to Luther a matter of such 
grave concern that he writes: "In the Church no other doctrine 
should be taught or heard than the pure Word of God, that is, 
Holy Scripture; otherwise both teachers and hearers shall be 
damned." (Cp. Pieper, Christl. Dogmatik, I, p. 56.) The same 
truth is expressed in the axiom Quod non est biblicum, non est 

The Christian theologian must therefore exclude from his 
system of doctrine all opinions and speculations of men, and he 
must teach nothing but God's own immutable truth and doctrine 
(doctrina divina) as it is exhibited in Holy Scripture (doctrina 
e Scriptura Sacra hausta). This demand is made by God Ham- 
self. Col. 2, 8 : "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy 
and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of 



the world, and not after Christ." And this divine demand pertains 
not merely to the chief doctrines, on which man's salvation depends 
directly, but to all teachings of Holy Scripture, Matt. 28, 20: 
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have com- 
manded yon." In whatever matter Holy Scripture has definitely 
spoken the Christian theologian must suppress his own views, 
opinions, and speculations and adhere unwaveringly to the divine 
truths revealed in Holy Scripture. In no case is he permitted to 
inject into the body of divine truth his own figments and fabrica- 
tions, and at no time must he allow his reason the prerogative 
of doubt, criticism, or denial, but every thought must everywhere 
be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. 10, 5. 
That is the demand which God Himself makes on all who would 
serve Him as theologians ; in every instance they are to attest and 
proclaim His Word and not their own. 

All teachers of the Church who refuse to do this are not Chris- 
tian theologians, but false prophets, against whose pernicious work 
God warns His saints. Jer. 23, 16 : "Hearken not unto the words 
of the prophets that prophesy unto you. . . . They speak a vision 
of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord." And in 
the New Testament this warning is reiterated with no less emphasis, 
1 Tim. 6, 4; 2 John 8 — 11 ; Eom. 16, 17; etc. Luther's insistence 
on faithfulness in teaching God's Word is well known. He writes : 
"If any one wishes to preach, let him keep silence with respect to 
his own words." "Here in the Church he should not speak any- 
thing but the Word of this generous Host; otherwise it is not 
the true Church. Therefore he must say, f God speaks/ " 

Emphasizing the great truth that all doctrine taught in the 
Church must be divine doctrine, our Lutheran dogmaticians as- 
serted that all theology proclaimed by the Christian theologian 
must be ectypal theology, or derived theology (theologia exxvnog), 
that is, a reprint, or reproduction, of archetypal theology {theologia 
dgxhvjzog), or original theology, as it is originally in God Him- 
self. Hollaz explains these terms as follows: "Archetypal the- 
ology is the knowledge which God has of Himself and which in 
Him is the model of that other theology which is communicated 
to intelligent creatures. Ectypal theology is the knowledge of God 
and divine things communicated to intelligent creatures by God 
after the pattern of His own theology." (Doctr. Theol., p. 16.) 

Modern rationalistic theology has rejected this distinction as 
useless and misleading; in reality, however, it is most profitable, 



since it expresses the Scriptural truth that God's ministers must 
speak only what He Himself teaches in His Word. Moreover, 
the distinction is Scriptural; for it declares very clearly that 
all true knowledge of God inheres originally and essentially in 
Him and that it is by divine grace that the knowledge which is 
necessary for man's salvation has been revealed by Him to His 
prophets and apostles. Matt. 11,27: "No man knoweth the Son 
but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son 
and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." To ectypal the- 
ology belongs also the natural knowledge of God, which man de- 
rives either from the Law written in his heart or from the works 
of God, Rom. 1, 19 ff. ; 2, 14. 15. Also this natural knowledge of 
God man owes to God's revelation of Himself, Acts 14, 17; 
17, 26. 27. Nevertheless this natural knowledge of God, while 
true and useful in its place, is not sufficient to save sinners, since 
it does not include the Gospel of God's grace in Christ Jesus. For 
this reason the only ectypal theology which may constitute the 
source of the Christian religion is that of Holy Scripture, or the 
written Word of God. Whatever is beyond, and contrary to, Holy 
Scripture does not correspond to archetypal theology and is con- 
demned by Scripture as vain talking (/uaiaiokoyia). 1 Tim. 1, 6 : 
"From which some, having swerved, have turned aside unto vain 

The paramount truth that all doctrine taught in the Church 
must be Scripture doctrine has been all but universally discarded 
by modern rationalistic theologians. The present-day "scientific 
theology" no longer recognizes Holy Scripture as the only source 
and norm of the Christian faith; on the contrary, it regards the 
identification of Christian theology with the doctrine of Scripture 
as an "abnormality" and a "repristination of a discarded theo- 
logical viewpoint." Nitzsch-Stephan writes: "No one bases his 
dogmatics any longer in the old Protestant way on the norma 
normans, i. e., Holy Scripture." ( Cp. Pieper, Christl. Dogmatik, 
I, 65.) In place of Holy Scripture modern rationalistic theology 
accepts as the norm and standard of faith the dictates of human 
reason, more or less disguised under the terms "Christian conscious- 
ness," "Christian experience," "Christian self-assurance," etc., 
while it denounces true loyalty to the Word of God as "Biblicism," 
"Intellectualism," etc., which can produce only a "mere intellectual 
Christianity," "a dead orthodoxy without inner warmth," and 
the like. 

However, in demanding for itself these unscriptural norms, 



modern rationalistic theology only deceives itself, as even a cursory 
examination of the matter will show. Thus, for example, Christian 
experience can in no way serve as a source or norm of faith, since 
the true Christian experience is never prior to Holy Scripture, but 
depends upon, and follows, its acceptance; that is to say, only he 
who believes the Word of God as set forth in Holy Scripture expe- 
riences in his heart both the terror of guilt and the comfort of 
grace. As a person studies and accepts the divine Law, he becomes 
convinced that he is a sinner ; as he studies and accepts the Gospel, 
he becomes convinced that his sin is forgiven through faith in 
Christ. In short, there is no true Christian experience of sin and 
grace without the means of grace, or the Word of God. This is the 
true reason for Christ's emphatic command that repentance and 
remission of sins should be preached in His name among all 
nations, Luke 24, 47. Cp. also Acts 26, 20. 

Thus the Christian experience becomes actual only through the 
preaching and acceptance of the Word of God ; or we may say, the 
Word of God is the only means by which the Holy Ghost works the 
Christian experience of repentance and faith, Rom. 7, 7; 1, 16. 17. 
On the other hand, where the Word of God is not preached, there 
is no true Christian experience. The proof for this truth is fur- 
nished by the very advocates of Christian experience as a norm 
of faith. Schleiermacher, for example, who insisted upon Christian 
experience as a norm of faith, rejected the central doctrine of 
Christianity by denying the vicarious atonement of Christ and 
consequently also the doctrine of justification by grace, through 
faith. Schleiermacher's experience moved him ultimately to rely 
upon his good works for salvation. But such an experience, as is 
evident, is not Christian, but carnal, rationalistic, and pagan, in 
short, the very opposite of Christianity. 

So also the "Christian faith" or "Christian consciousness" 
can in no way serve as a source and standard of Christian theology; 
for as the "Christian experience," so also the "Christian faith" 
or "Christian consciousness" results from faithful acceptance of 
Holy Scripture. Now, since the "Christian faith" is the fruit of 
Holy Scripture, it can never be the source and norm of Christian 
theology, as little as the apple growing on a tree can be its own 
cause or source. But just as the apple is produced by the tree, so 
the Christian faith is produced by Holy Scripture ; it is found only 
where Holy Scripture is adhered to and believed. Rom. 10, 17: 
"Faith cometh by hearing." John 17,20: "Who believe through 



their Word." Hence every "Christian faith" or every "Christian 
consciousness" which is not rooted in the Word of God, but pre- 
sumes to judge the Word of God, is not Christian, but carnal and 
antichristian, 1 Tim. 6, 3 — 5. 

What Luther writes on this point is certainly true and deserves 
conscientious consideration. He says: "Faith teaches, and holds 
to, the truth; for it clings to Scripture, which neither lies nor 
deceives. Whatsoever does not have its origin in Scripture most 
assuredly comes from the devil." All who wish to make the 
"Christian faith" or "Christian consciousness" a norm of faith 
would do well to heed this severe, but correct condemnatory verdict. 
Our Savior declares : "If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My 
disciples indeed." Such statements as these settle the question so 
far as the Christian theologian is concerned; his disci pleship as 
well as his theology is grounded only on God's Word and on noth- 
ing else. All theology that is not drawn from God's Word opposes 
the Gospel and subverts the Christian faith, as the rationalistic 
theology of all subjective or "I theologians" proves, from Aquinas, 
Scotus, and Schleiermacher down to the present-day Modernists. 
Wherever the Word of God is not accepted in its truth and purity, 
there can be no genuine Christian theology. 

Nor can the "regenerate heart," or the "regenerate I," serve 
as a source or norm of the Christian faith, since a person is truly 
regenerate only as long as he, in simple faith, believes Holy 
Scripture. Mark 16, 16 b: "He that believeth not shall be 
damned." The "regenerate heart" which modern rationalistic 
theologians would set up as a standard of faith is, in the final 
analysis, the carnal and unbelieving mind of an unregenerate 
person, rising in rebellion against the mysteries of the faith. This 
is proved by the fact that practically all who accept their "regen- 
erate heart" as a norm of faith deny both the inspiration and 
the infallibility of Holy Scripture. Such an outrage, however, no 
truly regenerate heart will perpetrate. 

From this it is clear that all theologians who reject Holy 
Scripture as the only source and standard of faith have fallen 
into the error of a most pernicious self-delusion. Their very in- 
sistence upon another source and norm outside Holy Scripture 
proves the spirit of unbelief which either consciously or uncon- 
sciously governs their minds. Eationalistic theology demands 
other norms than the Word of God for the very reason that it 
is rationalistic and unchristian. The believing child of God 
says with Samuel: "Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth," 



1 Sam. 3, 9. Only blind unbelief and wicked rebellion against 
God presume to judge His Word by establishing norms of faith 
in opposition to the revealed divine truth. 

Modern rationalistic theology prides itself on its true evaluation 
of the "historical character" of the Christian religion. But ortho- 
dox theology has never denied this "historical character"; in fact, 
the historicity of Christianity has always been asserted by believing 
theologians, on account of their firm faith in Holy Scripture. 
Indeed, just because of their faith in the "historical character" 
of the Christian religion they are opposed to all norms that are 
put forth in opposition to Holy Scripture. For "historical Chris- 
tianity" can be learned only from the Bible, not from any other 
source. Tradition cannot reveal it to us, nor can it originate with 
human reason. Only what Christ and His holy apostles tell us of 
the Christian religion in the Bible is "historical Christianity." 
The "historical Christ" whom modern rationalistic theologians 
wish to construct outside Holy Scripture and the "historical 
Christianity" which they desire to build up apart from Holy 
Scripture are alike unhistorical and false, for they are figments of 
unbelieving minds. For the true "historical Christian religion" 
we must rely solely on the Bible, Matt. 28, 19. 20; John 8, 31. 32; 
17,20; Eph.2,20. 

In short, rationalistic theology is a product of unbelief and as 
such is intrinsically false, ungodly, and unscriptural. Our divine 
Lord invariably affirmed, "It is written"; modern rationalistic 
theologians contemptuously reject that formula and substitute for 
it their own subjective opinion, "I believe" and "I think." Thus 
they teach their own word, not the Word of God. Modern ration- 
alistic theology can be cured of its ingrained falsity only by re- 
turning to Holy Scripture and adopting Luther's fundamental 
principle: "All trust is in vain which is not founded upon the 
Word of God. God wished to present to us His will and counsels 
through His Word alone, not by means of our fancies and imagi- 
nations." (St.L., VI, 70; III, 1417.) 


Theology, considered objectively, is Christian doctrine, or 
Bible doctrine, which, as we have seen before, is inspired in all its 
parts, so that in the whole Bible there is not a single teaching which 
is not divinely given and profitable for salvation. Nevertheless, 
while it is the scope and purpose of the entire Bible to save 



sinners from eternal perdition, distinctions must be made between 
the various Bible doctrines regarding their special function and 
importance. We thus speak of 1) Law and Gospel; 2) funda- 
mental and non-fundamental doctrines; 3) theological problems, 
or open questions. 


The distinction between Law and Gospel is one that is made 
by Holy Scripture itself. For while at times the term Law is used 
for the entire Word of God or every revealed truth in Holy Scrip- 
ture (Ps. 1, 2; 19, 7; 119, 97), nevertheless this term, in its 
proper and narrow sense, has a distinct meaning, which properly 
does not apply to the whole revealed Word of God. So, too, the 
term Gospel is sometimes applied to the entire doctrine of the 
Bible (Mark 1,1 — 15; Phil. 4, 15). Yet in its strict sense each 
of these terms denotes a definite message, which must not be iden- 
tified with the entire Scripture content. Therefore, properly or 
strictly speaking, the Law is not Gospel, nor is the Gospel Law, but 
the two are opposites. Accurate definitions of them will readily 
prove this. The Formula of Concord defines the Law thus : "The 
Law is properly a divine doctrine which teaches what is right and 
pleasing to God and reproves everything that is sin and contrary 
to God's will." The same confession defines the Gospel in its 
narrow sense as follows : "The Gospel is properly such a doctrine 
as teaches what man who has not observed the Law and therefore 
is condemned by it is to believe, namely, that Christ has expiated, 
and made satisfaction for, all sins and has obtained and acquired 
for him, without any merit of his, forgiveness of sins, righteousness 
that avails before God, and eternal life." (Epitome, V, 2. 4.) 
These definitions are Scriptural and nicely show the fundamental 
difference between the Law and the Gospel. How essential this 
difference is, is obvious from the fact that Holy Scripture expressly 
excludes the Law from the province of salvation. Its pronounce- 
ment is : "By grace are ye saved, . . . not of works," Eph. 2, 8. 9. 
"Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justi- 
fied," Eom. 3, 20. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified 
by faith, without the deeds of the Law," v. 28. 

This distinction between the Law and the Gospel, which is so 
clearly taught in Holy Scripture, the Christian theologian must 
conscientiously observe and neither weaken the condemning force 
of the Law nor diminish the saving comfort of the Gospel. He 
must declare without qualification the whole guilt and condemna- 



tion of sin which the Law reveals. Ezek. 3, 18 : "When I say unto 
the wicked, Thou shalt surely die and thou give him not warning 
nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his 
life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood 
will I require at thine hand." So also the Christian theologian 
must proclaim fully and without any qualification the whole con- 
solation of the Gospel with its matchless offer of divine grace, 
pardon, and eternal life. Matt. 11, 28 : "Come unto Me, all ye that 
labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 1 Cor. 2, 2 : 
"For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus 
Christ and Him crucified." 

Unless the Law and the Gospel are thus preached as two dis- 
tinct and contradictory doctrines (Luther: plus quam contradic- 
torily the Christian religion is deprived of its distinct content, 
is paganized by the introduction of work-righteousness as a cause 
of salvation, and is therefore rendered incapable of saving sinners. 
The sinner indeed needs the Law in order that he may know his sin 
and the condemnation of God which rests upon him because of his 
sin; but he needs the Gospel in order that he may know divine 
grace, which through Christ Jesus has fully removed his sin and 
offers full forgiveness to him. Gal. 3, 10 : "Cursed is every one 
that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of 
the Law to do them"; v. 13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the 
curse of the Law, being made a curse for us." Whenever the Law 
with its condemnation is weakened and sinners are taught to rely 
for salvation on the works of the Law, though only in part, then 
the Gospel, too, is corrupted, since a weakened Law means a weak- 
ened Gospel. The final result is that the sinner is robbed of the 
salvation which is offered in the Gospel; for this offer is received 
only by those who implicitly trust in its divine promises and cast 
themselves upon God's mercy, in short, by those who absolutely 
repudiate the error of salvation by works. Gal. 5, 4 : "Christ is 
become of no effect unto you whosoever of you are justified by the 
Law; ye are fallen from grace." Gal. 3, 10: "As many as are of 
the works of the Law are under the curse." As the Law must for- 
ever remain the "ministry of condemnation," so the Gospel must 
forever remain the "ministration of righteousness," 2 Cor. 3, 9. 
For a person is a Christian only in so far as he comforts himself 
against the terrors of conscience with the free and full promise of 
forgiveness, "without the deeds of the Law." 

This fundamental truth requires special emphasis to-day in 



view of the fact that both Romanism and modern Protestant sec- 
tarianism have discarded the Scriptural distinction between Law 
and Gospel and have mingled the two into each other. (Cp. Pieper, 
Christliche Dogmatik, I, 84 ff.) The reason for this is obvious. 
Both Eomanism and modern sectarianism are basically pagan ; for 
both insist upon work-righteousness as a condition of salvation. 
Now, where work-righteousness is consistently taught, the distinc- 
tion between Law and Gospel necessarily is eliminated, and each is 
deprived of its distinctive character. Salvation by works has room 
only in that type of theology which affirms that sin is not as 
hideous as Holy Scripture pictures it and that divine grace is not 
as glorious as the Gospel proclaims it. In other words, the pagan- 
istic error of salvation by work-righteousness is possible only if 
neither the Law nor the Gospel is taught in its truth and purity. 
Against this pernicious corruption of God's holy Word let every 
true theologian be warned. Our divine Lord says: "Whosoever 
therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall 
teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of 
heaven," Matt. 5, 19; and St. Paul writes: "But though we or an 
angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that 
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed," Gal. 1, 8. — 
With regard to the use of Law and Gospel the following distinc- 
tions must be conscientiously observed : — 

a. Knowledge of sin must be taught from the Law; forgive- 
ness of sin must be taught from the Gospel. Bom. 3, 20 : "There- 
fore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified/' 
Bom. 1, 16. 17 : "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it 
is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. . . . 
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, 
as it is written, The just shall live by faith." All who teach forgive- 
ness of sin from the Law or on the basis of work-righteousness are 
not Christian theologians, but false prophets, Gal. 5, 4. "I would 
they were even cut off which trouble you," Gal. 5, 12. Since by 
the Law there is the knowledge of sin, it must be preached to secure 
sinners, who, filled with carnal pride, refuse to admit their guilt. 
Bom. 3, 19 : "That every mouth may be stopped and all the world 
may become guilty before God." On the other hand, the Gospel 
must be proclaimed to contrite hearts, that is, to penitent sinners, 
who have been humbled by the Law, make no assertion of having 
any merit whatsoever of their own, and gladly accept salvation as 
a free gift. Luke 4, 18: "He hath anointed Me to preach the 



Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted." 
It is needless to say that the right apportionment of Law- and 
Gospel-preaching must remain a matter of pastoral wisdom. Never- 
theless the true minister of Christ is above all a preacher of the 
Gospel and will therefore not deny his hearers a full and abundant 
measure of Gospel comfort. 

b. By means of the Law the Christian theologian teaches what 
good works are; but by means of the Gospel he produces true joy 
and zeal to do good works, Matt. 15, 1—6; 22, 35 — 40; 19, 16—22; 
Eom. 12, 1; Gal. 5, 24—26; Eph. 6, 5—10; 2 Cor. 8, 8. 9; etc. 
These diverse functions of the Law and the Gospel have been fit- 
tingly expressed by the axiom: Lex praescribit; evangelium in- 
scribit. Luther writes : "A legalistic preacher compels by threats 
and punishments; a preacher of grace calls forth and moves by 
showing divine goodness and mercy." (St. L., XII, 318.) 

c. The Law checks sin only outwardly, while it increases sin 
inwardly; but the Gospel, by converting the sinner, destroys sin 
both inwardly and outwardly. Rom. 7, 5 : "For when we were in 
the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in 
our members to bring forth fruit unto death." V. 6 : "But now 
are we delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were 
held, that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the old- 
ness of the letter." Rom. 6, 14 : "Sin shall not have dominion 
over you ; for ye are not under the Law, but under grace." This 
important truth is stated in the axiom: "Lex necat peccatorem, 
non peccatum; evangelium necat peccatum, non peccatorem/' 
Luther writes : "Hence, whoever knows well this art of distinguish- 
ing between Law and Gospel, him place at the head and call him 
a doctor of Holy Scripture." (St. L., IX, 802.) 


The doctrines of Holy Scripture have been fittingly divided 
into fundamental and non-fundamental doctrines. The purpose of 
this division is not to discard certain teachings of the Word of 
God as practically unimportant or unnecessary. Such a procedure 
would be in direct opposition to Scripture itself. Matt. 28, 20 : 
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have com- 
manded you." Eom. 15, 4: "For whatsoever things were written 
aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience 
and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." According to 
these words, God demands of the Christian theologian that he 
teach the entire Scriptural content, adding nothing and taking 



away nothing. Nevertheless the distinction of which we speak is 
fully Scriptural and serves an excellent purpose. It helps the 
Christian theologian to recognize and distinguish those doctrines 
of God's Word which "are so necessary to be known that, when 
they are not known, the foundation of faith is not savingly appre- 
hended or retained." (Hollaz.) In other words, the fundamental 
doctrines are those "which cannot be denied consistently with faith 
and salvation, being the very foundation of the Christian faith/' 

In order that we may understand this, we must remember that 
not everything that Holy Scripture teaches is the object or foun- 
dation of justifying and saving faith. For instance, we are not 
saved by believing that David was king or that the Pope in Eome is 
the great Antichrist. However, the Christian theologian does not 
for that reason deny these facts, for they are taught in God's in- 
fallible Word. But these truths, which the theologian accepts as 
such, are non-fundamental as far as saving faith is concerned. 
Saving faith is faith in the forgiveness of sins through the vicarious 
atonement of Jesus Christ, or trust in the statement of Scripture 
that God justifies a sinner without the works of the Law, for 
Christ's sake. That is the essence of the Christian religion, the 
foundation on which the entire Christian hope is built. Of this 
essence and foundation nothing can be removed without destroying 
the whole Christian religion. Any one who denies even a particle 
of this fundamental doctrine is outside the pale of the Christian 
Church. Luther says very correctly : "This doctrine [of justifica- 
tion by faith] is the head and corner-stone, which alone begets, 
nourishes, builds up, preserves, and protects the Church, and with- 
out this doctrine the Church of God cannot exist one hour." (St. L., 
XIV, 168.) Again: "As many in the world as deny it [justifica- 
tion by faith] are either Jews, or Turks, or papists, or heretics." 
(IX, 29.) Because of its paramount importance our Lutheran 
dogmaticians have called the doctrine of justification by grace 
through faith in Christ's vicarious atonement "the most funda- 
mental of all doctrines" (articulus omnium fundamentalissimus). 

The doctrine of justification by grace, through faith in Christ's 
atonement, however, presupposes and includes other fundamental 
doctrines. These are — 

a. The doctrine of sin and its consequences. All who deny 
the Scriptural doctrine of sin cannot have saving faith; for saving 
faith is implicit trust in God's gracious forgiveness of sins. The 



true Christian believes that all his sins, both original and actual, 
are fully pardoned for Jesus' sake. In other words, he believes 
both the divine Law, which condemns sin, and the divine Gospel, 
which pardons sin. Both doctrines, the doctrine of sin and that 
of forgiveness of sins, are fundamental. This truth our Savior 
affirms when He says that "repentance and forgiveness of sins 
should be preached in His name among all nations," Luke 24, 47. 
According to Christ's direction the preaching of repentance for 
sin, or of contrition, must precede the preaching of forgiveness. 
Our divine Lord further illustrates this great truth by the Parable 
of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee, who did not 
believe the Scriptural doctrine of sin and therefore did not regard 
himself as a sinner, could not be justified; in his opinion he had 
no need of justification and forgiveness. The publican, on the 
other hand, believed the fundamental doctrine of sin, declared 
himself guilty and lost, and, trusting in divine grace, received 
forgiveness through faith. In short, saving faith can exist only 
in a contrite heart, that is, in a heart which is terrified and sorry 
because of its sin. Is. 66, 2 : "To this man will I look, even to 
him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembleth at My 
Word." Is. 57, 15 : "I dwell with him that is of a contrite and 
humble spirit." Ps. 34, 18 : "The Lord is nigh unto them that 
are of a broken heart and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." 
Cp. Ps. 51, 16. 17; Luke 4, 18; Matt. 11, 28. Hence we rightly 
classify the doctrine of sin among the fundamental doctrines of 
Holy Scripture. 

b. The doctrine of the person of Christ. The doctrine of 
the person of Christ is fundamental because saving faith is trust 
in the divine-human Redeemer, who died for the sins of the world. 
For this reason the denial both of Christ's true deity and of His 
true humanity makes saving faith impossible. Our divine Lord 
very severely discountenanced the opinions of those who regarded 
Him as John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremiah, or as one of the prophets 
and required of His disciples that they believe in Him as "the 
Christ, the Son of the living God," Matt. 16, 13 — 17; cp. also 
1 John 1, 1 — 4. Modern rationalistic theologians, who deny the 
true deity of Christ and ascribe deity to Him only honoris causa 
(cp. Ritschl's declaration: "In our judgment we ascribe to Him 
the value of a God"), are not Christians, but Unitarians and there- 
fore extra ecclesiam; that is to say, the doctrine of God which 
modern rationalistic theology inculcates is essentially paganistic, 




since it rejects the true God of the Bible. It is self-evident that 
true faith in the divine Christ must include also faith in the 
Triune God. In other words, the true Christian, who believes in 
the deity of Christ, believes also that the true God is none other 
than the unus Bens, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for without 
faith in the Father no one can believe in the Son, Matt. 16,17; 
11,27; and again, without the Holy Ghost no one can call Jesus 
Lord, 1 Cor. 12, 3 ; Eom. 8, 15 ; John 16, 13—15. The Scriptural 
doctrine of the Holy Trinity is therefore as fundamental as is 
that of the deity of Christ. — However, also the doctrine of Christ's 
true humanity is fundamental; for the denial of the substantial 
humanity of Christ (cp. the error of the Docetae) implies the 
denial of His actual suffering and death. Saving faith is trust in 
the vicarious atonement of the theanthropic Christ (dedv&Qcojzos), 
John 1, 14 — 17: "The Word was made flesh; . . . and of His ful- 
ness have all we received, and grace for grace. . . . Grace and 
truth came by Jesus Christ." Hence we rightly classify among 
the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion the doctrines 
of the Holy Trinity, of Christ's true deity, and of His true 

c. The doctrine of Christ's vicarious atonement. Saving faith 
is faith in Christ not merely as a Teacher of the divine Law or 
as an Ensample of Virtue or as the "Ideal Man/' as modernistic 
theology maintains, but faith in Christ as "the Mediator between 
God and men," who has given His life as a ransom for many, and 
as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," 
1 Tim. 2, 5. 6 ; Matt. 20, 28 ; Eph. 1, 7 ; John 1, 29. All who de- 
cline to put their trust in the vicarious satisfaction of Christ 
(Is. 53, 1 — 6) are obliged to trust for reconciliation and pardon in 
their own good works and thus exclude themselves from the grace of 
God secured by Christ's substitutionary death, Gal. 5, 4. That is 
true of all who depart from the Scriptural doctrine of justification 
by grace, through faith, and reject the sola gratia and the sola fide. 
The Semi-Pelagianist, the Arminian, and the synergist, if they 
consistently hold to their error, are as much extra ecclesiam as the 
Unitarian and the Modernist. The warning of the Apology is 
well in place : "Most of those errors which our adversaries def end, 
overthrow faith, as their condemnation of the article concerning 
the remission of sins, in which we say that the remission of sins 
is received by faith. Likewise it is a manifest and pernicious error 
when the adversaries teach that men merit the remission of sins 



by love to God prior to grace. In the place of Christ they set up 
their works, orders, masses, just as the Jews, the heathen, and the 
Turks intend to be saved by their works." (Art. IV, 22.) If with- 
in those churches which teach the pagan doctrine of work-righteous- 
ness individual persons still remain Christians, this is due to the 
surpassing grace of God, as the Apology rightly reminds us: 
"Therefore, even though Popes or some theologians and monks in 
the Church have taught us to seek remission of sins, grace, and 
righteousness through our own works and to invent new forms of 
worship, which have obscured the office of Christ and have made 
out of Christ not a Propitiator and Justifier, but only a Legislator, 
nevertheless the knowledge of Christ has always remained with 
some godly persons'' (Art. Ill, 271.) 

d. The doctrine of the Word of God. The Word of God, 
that is, the external Word of the holy Gospel, which Christ com- 
manded His blessed apostles to preach and teach to all nations 
(Matt. 28, 19. 20; Mark 16, 15. 16) and which is set forth in Holy 
Scripture, is both the object and the means of saving faith. It is 
the object of saving faith because saving faith believes the Gospel, 
Mark 1,15; Rom. 1,1. 2; it is the means of saving faith since 
saving faith is engendered only through the Gospel, Rom. 10, 17 ; 
1, 16; John 17, 20; Jas. 1, 18. Every "faith" that is not pro- 
duced by the Word of God is not faith, but a figment of 
the mind, or fancy. Such faith Luther rightly styles "faith in 
the air." True, saving faith is always God-made, never man- 
made, 1 Tim. 6, 3. 1 Cor. 2, 1—5 : "That your faith should not 
stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." For this 
reason the doctrine of the Word of God is likewise a fundamental 
doctrine. The penalty of the rejection of the Gospel is damnation, 
Mark 16, 15. 16. 

e. The doctrine of the resurrection. Modern rationalistic 
theology discards the Scriptural doctrine of the resurrection, deny- 
ing both Christ's glorious resurrection and the resurrection of all 
the dead on Judgment Day. In place of the resurrection it teaches 
the immortality of the soul. Holy Scripture, however, affirms 
that the denial of the resurrection involves the denial of the entire 
Gospel of Christ, 1 Cor. 15, 12 — 19. It unqualifiedly condemns 
those who deny the resurrection as having made shipwreck of their 
faith and erred concerning the truth, 1 Tim. 1, 19. 20; 2 Tim. 2, 
17. 18. Hymenaeus and Alexander, who denied the doctrine of the 
resurrection, were delivered by St. Paul "unto Satan that they may 



learn not to blaspheme." The denial of the resurrection is there- 
fore tantamount to blasphemy of Christ. It is for this reason that 
we classify the doctrine of the resurrection among the fundamentals 
of the Christian religion. 

When we speak of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian 
religion, we of course mean these doctrines as they are presented 
in Holy Scripture, not the dogmatic formulation of these teachings, 
or the dogmas of the Church. Dogmas may be faulty ; the teach- 
ings of Holy Scripture are infallible. Nevertheless it must be 
borne in mind that, whenever the doctrines of Holy Scripture have 
been formulated correctly, the rejection of such dogmas, or creeds, 
is nothing less than the rejection of Holy Scripture itself. Thus 
Modernists, who reject the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed or 
the Athanasian Creed, reject the very Word of God; for the doc- 
trines expounded and defended in these confessions are the teach- 
ings of Holy Scripture. 

Primary and Secondary Fundamental Doctrines. 

The fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion may be 
divided into primary and secondary fundamental doctrines. This 
distinction is not only Scriptural, but also practical and useful, for 
it helps the Christian theologian to discriminate rightly between the 
fundamental doctrines themselves. As we have learned, funda- 
mental doctrines are such as constitute the foundation of the Chris- 
tian faith; yet not all fundamental doctrines constitute this 
foundation in the same manner. Hollaz rightly observes: "All 
the fundamental articles of faith must necessarily be known, but 
the grades of this necessity are different." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 99.) 
Thus the primary fundamental articles are of such absolute im- 
portance that, if they are denied, there is no foundation whatever 
on which saving faith may rest. All the doctrines enumerated be- 
fore under the heading "Fundamental Articles of Faith" are to be 
classified as primary fundamental articles; for if these are cast 
aside, Christianity cannot exist. 

Secondary fundamental doctrines, on the other hand, while 
also serving as a foundation of faith, do not do so primarily and 
absolutely. Examples of secondary fundamental doctrines are 
those of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These two Sacra- 
ments, instituted by Christ have been given to us as a founda- 
tion of faith besides the Gospel; for the same grace and forgive- 
ness proffered and conveyed to us in the Word of God are proffered 



and conveyed to us also in them. Acts 2, 38 : "Repent and be bap- 
tized, every one of yon, for the remission of sins." Matt. 26, 28 
(Luke 22, 19 f.) : "This is My blood of the new testament, which 
is shed for many for the remission of sins." On this gracious 
offer of pardon, sealed by Christ in the Sacraments, the Christian 
faith rests, and in the same manner and to the same degree as it 
rests on our Lord's offer of pardon in the Word. For this reason 
the doctrines of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are funda- 
mental; they are the foundation of the Christian's faith. Never- 
theless a person may be ignorant of these doctrines, or he may 
even err with regard to them and yet be saved, provided he clings 
to the promise of forgiveness offered in the Gospel. The reason 
for this is obvious. The entire forgiveness which Christ has secured 
for sinners by His death on the cross is offered and conveyed to 
the believer in the Gospel, so that, if he trusts in the Gospel 
promise, he possesses by faith all the merits of Christ, together 
with spiritual life and eternal salvation. This does not mean 
that the sacramental promise is superfluous. The Christian 
Church can never dispense with the Sacraments, since they convey 
the spiritual blessings of the Savior in a particularly close and 
comforting manner. The Sacraments are the visible Word (Ver- 
bum visibile) and the individual application (applicatio indi- 
vidualis) of divine grace. But the Christian believer who trusts 
in the divine promise of pardon which is offered in the Gospel to 
all men is already in possession of salvation. The Sacraments offer 
nothing new; they only seal and confirm the same grace and the 
same absolution which the Gospel announces, gives, and confers. 
In this sense the Sacraments are not absolutely necessary ; and for 
this reason we call the doctrines of Holy Baptism and Holy Com- 
munion secondary fundamental doctrines. Nor should we reject 
this distinction; for it points out to us where we must draw the 
line between Christians and non-Christians. Thus the believing 
children of God in the Reformed churches err with regard to the 
essence and purpose of the Sacraments, and this error we must 
regard as one which is both dangerous and pernicious. Still they 
trust in the grace which is offered to them in the Gospel, and as 
long as they do that, we cannot deny that they have the saving 
faith. In other words, we must still regard them as Christians, 
though as weak and erring Christians and such as constantly en- 
danger their state of grace by not accepting the whole Word of 
Christ. What has just been said of the children of God in the 



Reformed churches pertains also to the believers in other sects and 
in the Roman Catholic Church. As long as a believer trusts in 
the grace of Christ offered in the Word, as did the thief on the 
cross, he is saved, even though he has never received the bless- 
ings of the Sacraments. Hollaz is quite right in saying of 
the secondary fundamental articles as such: "A simple want of 
acquaintance with them does not prevent salvation, but the perti- 
nacious denial of, and hostility to, them overturns the foundation 
of faith." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 99.) 

In his remark concerning the secondary fundamental doc- 
trines, Hollaz directs our attention to a very important truth. The 
distinction between primary and secondary fundamental doctrines 
must never be abused in the interest of tolerating false doctrine. 
A pertinacious denial of, and manifest hostility to, the secondary 
fundamental doctrines, the same as to all doctrines of Holy Scrip- 
ture, must in the end overturn the foundation of the faith ; for this 
implies resistance offered to the Holy Spirit. Of this we must con- 
tinually remind all errorists, even if we cannot deny their state of 
grace. Let every Christian theologian remember : — 

a. That he is commanded by Christ to teach all the doctrines 
of God's Word and not to ignore or deny a single one. Matt. 
28, 20 : "Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have com- 
manded you." 

b. That every departure from the Word of God, according to 
God's express statement, is a scandal (oxdvdaAov), or offense. Rom. 
16, 17: "Mark them which cause offenses contrary to the doctrine 
which ye have learned." No theologian can teach errors without 
giving offense to others ; and this is a most serious matter. Matt. 
18, 7 : "Woe to that man by whom the offense cometh !" Cp. also 
Luke 17, 1. Rom. 14, 13: "That no man put a stumbling-block, 
or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way." 2 Cor. 6, 3 : "Giving 
no offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed." 

c. That every one who sets aside the clear testimony of God's 
Word in a single point rejects the entire Word of God as the only 
source and standard of faith ; for Holy Scripture must be believed 
and taught not merely in its general application, but all its parts, 
indeed all its words, must be accepted as divine truth. Luther 
rightly says : "The Holy Spirit [speaking in Holy Scripture] can- 
not be separated or divided, so that He should teach and have us 
believe one doctrine as true and another as false." (St. L., XX, 
1871.) All the teachings of God's Word are so intimately inter- 



woven with one another that, if one is denied, all the rest are 
likewise affected by such denial ; that is to say, "one error produces 
another," as the history of dogma proves. If there are exceptions 
to this rule, they must be attributed to the wonderful sustaining 
grace of God alone. Due to God's grace an erring theologian some- 
times, by a strange "fortunate inconsistency," does not personally 
believe what he officially teaches ; or again, he does not, in his own 
life of faith, draw the deadly inferences which his rationalistic 
rejection of divine truth suggests. Thus many a synergist who 
officially affirmed man's cooperation in conversion in his own per- 
sonal dealings with God as a penitent sinner disavowed this per- 
nicious error and trusted for salvation in God's grace alone. Again, 
erring theologians who publicly and officially denied the univer- 
sality of divine grace nevertheless proclaimed and asserted the uni- 
versal character of God's grace and of Christ's redemption when 
they preached the Gospel to the common people. This fortunate 
difference between theory and practise they owed to the unspeakable 
mercy of God, who earnestly desires the salvation of sinners. 

However, also this truth must not be abused to promote indif- 
ference in doctrine. While we admit that there is a "fortunate 
inconsistency," we must remember that there is an "unfortunate 
consistency," by which theologians who offend in one point are led 
to offend in many points and even in all. In other words, the 
proclamation of one error consistently leads to the proclamation 
of others and in the end to the denial of the entire Scriptural 
truth. Against this fatal consequence of denying God's Word and 
indulging in error Luther earnestly warns all Christian theologians 
when he writes : "You must not say, I purpose to err as a Chris- 
tian. Christian erring occurs only from ignorance." (St. L., XIX, 
1132.) Luther admits that there is such an anomaly as "Christian 
erring" ; that is to say, even a true Christian at times errs due to 
weakness or to ignorance. But this "Christian erring" becomes 
an "unchristian erring" as soon as a person deliberately and know- 
ingly yields to error. Such "unchristian erring" must needs over- 
turn the foundation of faith and endanger salvation. Let the 
Christian theologian, then, be warned. Indifferentism with respect 
to the doctrines of Holy Scripture and spiritual unionism resulting 
therefrom are diametrically opposed to God's Word, which declares : 
"A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition 
reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, 
being condemned of himself," Titus 3, 10. 11. Holy Scripture 



never justifies the teaching of error, but always and most vehe- 
mently condemns it as an offense, axdvdakov. 

d. That the whole Church, in order to preserve unadul- 
terated the purity of doctrine, must continually guard against 
every error by which Satan would cause divisions and offenses. To 
this end it must rebuke even the slightest error and departure from 
the truth that is in Christ Jesus. Gal. 5, 9 : "A little leaven 
leaveneth the whole lump." It is the "little leaven" of false 
doctrine with which the whole corruption of the entire Christian 
theology usually begins. Modernism, with its crass rejection of 
all the Scriptural truths that are necessary to salvation, is but 
the result of the indifferentism of such theologians and churches 
as allowed the 'little leaven" a place in their system of dogmas. 
Let errorists deny the doctrine of verbal inspiration, and the whole 
doctrine of inspiration will fall. Let the sola gratia be removed 
from the corpus doctrinue, and the rejection of Christ's vicarious 
atonement will follow. The Christian theologian cannot err in 
"little things" without sooner or later erring also in the "great 
things" of salvation. That is the "unfortunate consistency" of 
tolerating error. How deadly it is all earnest Christians know 
who have studied the history of the Christian Church in the light 
of Holy Scripture. 

Non-Fundamental Doctrines. 

Non-fundamental doctrines of Holy Scripture are such as do 
not constitute the foundation of faith, inasmuch as they do not 
offer and convey to sinners forgiveness of sins and thus make them 
children of God through faith in Christ. They do not form the 
foundation of saving faith, but rather strengthen the faith which 
already exists. Hollaz describes non-fundamental doctrines as 
"parts of the Christian doctrine which one may be ignorant of 
or omit and yet be saved" (Doctr. Theol., p. 92). Such doctrines 
are, for example, those of the angels, of Antichrist, etc. As we see, 
these doctrines do not create saving faith in Christ, but they are 
given for the comfort or warning of those who already believe in 
Christ. This does not mean that the non-fundamental doctrines 
are useless ; in many respects their importance is indeed very great, 
and so they may not be dispensed with. Thus the doctrine con- 
cerning the holy angels glorifies divine grace and strengthens our 
faith in God's merciful providence. Both quantitatively and quali- 
tatively this doctrine constitutes a weighty part of Christian 
theology. This fact the Christian theologian must never overlook. 



Again, the doctrine concerning Antichrist instructs with Tegard to, 
and warns us against, the greatest fraud ever perpetrated within 
Christendom, and evangelical theology would suffer a most serious 
loss if this doctrine were eliminated. Accordingly also the non- 
fundamental doctrines are necessary and must be inculcated with 
becoming earnestness and emphasis. 2 Tim. 3, 16 : "All Scripture 
is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for 
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Never- 
theless the non-fundamental doctrines are not properly the object 
of saving faith ; for faith relies on the gracious Gospel-promise of 
pardon through faith in the redemption of Jesus Christ; in this 
sense alone they are non-fundamental. Whoever declares them to 
be non-fundamental in the sense that they can be dispensed with 
denies both the divine authority and the perfection of Holy Scrip- 
ture and thus denies a fundamental doctrine. Baier's warning with 
regard to this matter should be heeded here. He writes: "At 
the same time [while we admit that there are nonrfundamental 
doctrines] we are to be careful in regard to this point lest by 
embracing or professing error we rashly sin against divine revela- 
tion and God Himself; especially, lest through the persuasion of 
others something be maintained, contrary to conscience, through 
which the foundation and the truth of one or more of the funda- 
mental articles of the faith are overturned. For thus, as by a mor- 
tal sin, faith and the Holy Spirit may be, and are, entirely driven 
away." (Doctr. Theol., p. 97.) This warning applies also to the 
historical, archeological, and scientific facts and statements con- 
tained in Holy Scripture. While these are not fundamental, we 
wickedly reject the divine authority of Holy Scripture if we pre- 
sume to deny them to be absolutely true; for an erring Scripture 
is not authoritative. Indeed, an errant Bible cannot be believed 
at all; for if it is false in non-fundamental points, how can it 
be true in its fundamental teachings? If we cannot rely on it 
when it teaches us earthly things, how much less can we do so 
when it speaks of heavenly things. Hence, while the Christian 
theologian acknowledges non-fundamental doctrines in Holy Scrip- 
ture, he believes and declares the entire Holy Scripture, in all its 
parts and in all its statements, to be the divine truth which must 
be proclaimed to men. The distinction between fundamental and 
non-fundamental doctrines is made by him merely to distinguish 
clearly between those teachings of God which are the foundation 
of justifying faith and those which are not. 




Open questions must not be defined as points of doctrine "on 
which men cannot agree" or "which the Church has left undecided 
in its Confessions," but as questions which Holy Scripture itself 
has left open, or unanswered, or has not answered clearly. This 
definition of open questions is very important; for not human, 
but only Scriptural authority determines what must be taught in 
the Christian Church, namely, the entire content of Holy Scrip- 
ture, Matt. 28, 20 ; not a definite doctrinal platform which certain 
theologians or churches have drawn up. In other words, Holy 
Scripture alone is the spiritual teacher of men, not the Church or 
the theologian in the Church. The spirit of indifferentism and 
unionism has always set up false standards regarding the issue of 
open questions. Guided by a vicious principle of religious tolera- 
tion, theologians again and again have erred on this point by exalt- 
ing their limited human reason above the inspired Word of God 
and "opening" or "closing" questions at their own will. Over 
against this unscriptural practise it must be maintained that open 
questions owe their existence alone to the silence of Scripture 
and not to any fixation of doctrine by the Church or to any policy 
of expediency advocated by parties in controversy. Since the doc- 
trine of Holy Scripture is God's Word, men have no right what- 
ever to decide what to teach and what not to teach or to deter- 
mine which should be closed and which should be open questions. 
That is a matter outside their jurisdiction. 

As we study Holy Scripture, we find that, in agreement with 
its scope and purpose, it does not answer every question which 
men may desire to have answered. For instance, it does not ex- 
plain how sin originated or could originate since all creatures were 
originally created "very good." Nor does Holy Scripture answer 
the question whether the soul of a child comes into being either 
by creation or traduction (creationism; traducianism). Questions 
on which the Word of God is silent we call theological problems, 
or open questions. To these questions we may add also the crux 
theologorum, which has always puzzled the minds of inquisitive 
theologians: Why are some converted and others not, though by 
nature all men are in the same guilt (eadem culpa) and are saved 
by grace alone (sola gratia) f ( Cur alii, alii nonf Cur non omnesf 
Cur alii prae aliisf) Since God's Word does not answer these 
questions, the theologian should not endeavor to do so. All 
attempts to do so are both anti-Scriptural, because the theologian 



is to speak only as the oracles of God, 1 Pet. 4, 11, and unscientific, 
since he who takes it upon himself to answer such questions pre- 
sumes to know what he cannot know. Divine truth is apprehended 
only through faith, or by simply believing what Holy Scripture 
teaches. John 8, 31. 32. Hence, whatever doctrine is drawn from 
any other source than Christ's Word is not theology, but mere 
speculation or downright ignorance, 1 Tim. 6, 4. 

The proper attitude of the Christian theologian toward open 
questions, or theological problems, is therefore that of confessing 
that he is incapable of solving them since the source of his faith, 
Holy Scripture, furnishes him no data. Eeusch very pertinently 
says: "Inutilis est eorum cognitio, et vanae sunt de eisdem dispu- 
tationes." (Annotationes in Baieri Comp., 1757, p. 52.) However, 
such disputations are not only useless, but directly dangerous. Of 
this Luther reminds us when he says that the Gospel is hindered 
mainly by two things, namely, first, if sinners are taught to trust 
in their good works, and secondly, if useless questions are pro- 
pounded the answering of which causes the chief parts of the 
Christian doctrine to be neglected. (St. L., IX, 863 ff.) Open 
questions are certainly not "open" in the sense that the Christian 
theologian may allow his imagination to run wild on matters which 
God has wisely refused to reveal. If he indulges in speculations, 
these must always be kept within the bounds of the analogy of 
faith, or the clear revelation of God's Word. But it is safer and 
better for a theologian not to speculate at all, since his own views 
may easily lodge in his theological system and be taught as a part 
of divinely revealed truth. Let the Christian theologian learn to 
say nescio wherever Holy Scripture does not speak with clearness 
and definiteness, remembering that both in revealing truths and in 
withholding facts which we should like to know God had in mind 
our salvation, 2 Tim. 3, 15 — 17. 

In this connection we may discuss also the important question, 
"What are articles of faith?" Articles of faith, as our dogma- 
ticians have always affirmed, have their origin solely in Holy 
Scripture. That means that the Christian Church accepts and 
believes only such doctrines as are unmistakably taught in Holy 
Scripture. Hollaz describes an article of faith as "a part of the 
doctrine revealed in the written Word of God concerning God and 
divine things and proposed to the sinner to be believed for his 
salvation." However, since it is true that some articles of 
faith contain truths which man's natural knowledge of God and 



the contemplation of God's works in nature disclose to him, for 
example, those concerning the existence of God, the articles of 
faith have been divided into mixed articles, that is, such as are 
manifest also from the light of nature, and pure articles, or such 
as are known only from the study of Holy Scripture. (Baier.) 
But also the former, the mixed articles, are articles of faith only 
inasmuch as they are directly taught in God's Word. The true 
Christian theologian recognizes no source of divine truth other 
than the Bible. 


Since the Christian theologian is to teach only what Holy 
Scripture teaches and nothing else, the question has been raised 
whether creeds, dogmas, or confessions are rightfully given a place 
in the Christian Church. The question has been denied by both 
conservative and modernistic theologians. Modernistic theology 
favors a creedless, or undogmatic, Christianity. Its plea is that the 
real function of the Church is to spread the "social gospel" and 
not the supernatural Gospel of Christ, with which our present 
advanced age is no longer in sympathy. Modernistic theology is 
therefore absolutely present-worldly, not otherworldly. It proposes 
a theology for this life, not one for the life to come (eine Dies- 
seitigskeits-, nicht eine Jenseitstheologie). This theology, so it is 
claimed, is one of good works, to be done now, and not one of 
comforting words with respect to a possible future existence. 
Because modernistic theology is so constituted, it regards creeds, 
dogmas, and confessions not only as unnecessary, but also as in- 
jurious. Creeds are said to impede the free progress and develop- 
ment of the Church and its activity. Thus modernistic theology 
must needs be opposed to dogmas. Modern theologians of a more 
conservative type oppose creeds for a somewhat different reason. 
Their claim is that dogmas and confessions prevent the necessary 
"progress in theology" (Lehrfortbildung), which must take place 
if the Church is to remain a living organism. In fact, this type 
of theologian holds that the doctrines of the Church are ever- 
living and expanding factors, forever subject to change as newer, 
fuller, and deeper revelations are given to men. Therefore the 
Church must not be fettered by the chains of definite creeds, since 
these prevent the progress, or development, of doctrine. As we see, 
in the final analysis the difference between the two types of theo- 
logians is not so very great. It is a difference in degree, not in 



kind. Both reject Holy Scripture as the sole rule and norm of 
faith and in its place enthrone reason or science. 

From the objections just now considered it is obvious that the 
animosity of modern liberalistic and rationalistic theology is pri- 
marily directed not against the creeds, or dogmas, themselves, but 
against Holy Scripture. These rationalists object to creeds because 
they object to divinely revealed truths. Their creedless theology 
is tantamount to a theology without the Holy Bible. They wish to 
follow their own words, not the Word of God. 

This hatred against Holy Scripture is, however, found also in 
churches that favor creeds. Roman Catholic theology, for example, 
is built up entirely on definite creeds. Because the Church of Rome 
accepts the ancient confessions of the unadulterated Christian 
Church, we still consider it as being within the pale of Christendom. 
But it has hedged in these ancient creeds by later creeds whose 
tenor is antichristian and which actually make void what the 
ancient Christian confessions declare. Moreover, these specifi- 
cally papistical creeds are in direct opposition to Holy Scripture, 
for they reject Scripture as the only rule of faith and flatly con- 
tradict its central doctrines. They affirm that the Pope as the 
head of the Church is the infallible norm of faith, that a sinner is 
justified by works, that the doctrine of justification by grace, 
through faith in Christ, is anathema, that the merits and inter- 
cessions of the saints avail for salvation, and so forth. Such creeds 
quite obviously do not deserve a place in the Christian Church; 
for they are not Christian, but antichristian. But also in the Cal- 
vinistic churches we find creeds that stand in opposition to the 
pure Word of God. The specifically Calvinistic creeds deny the 
universality of God's grace and of Christ's redemption, the efficacy 
of the means of grace, the true presence of our Lord's body in the 
Holy Supper, the communion of natures in the person of Christ, 
and the resulting communication of attributes, etc. Such creeds 
must not be tolerated in the Christian Church because they are 
unscriptural and rationalistic. 

The Christian Church, which has for its source of faith only 
the infallible Word of God (Eph. 2, 20), must under no condition 
acknowledge as right and legitimate any dogma, or doctrine, which 
is not a clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Or we may say: The 
dogma of the Christian Church is the doctrine of the Holy Bible. 
Whatever the written Word of God declares and teaches is eo ipso 
a church dogma, no matter whether it is especially formulated 



or not. The question is not : Is this or that doctrine clearly stated 
in the Confessions ? but : Is this or that doctrine set forth in God's 
Word ? If it is set forth in Holy Writ, it is for this reason a church 
dogma, even though not a word is said about it in the Confessions 
of the Church. The reason for this is not difficult to perceive. 
The Christian Church is not the lord of God's doctrine, but only 
its servant. Its paramount purpose is not to create new doctrines, 
but to preach the doctrines which its divine Lord has revealed. 
Matt. 28, 20: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever 
I have commanded you." Luther's dictum applies here with full 
force : "The Church of God has no authority to establish any article 
of faith, just as it never has established any nor ever will estab- 
lish any." So also Quenstedt rightly says (1, 36) : "Divine reve- 
lation is the first and last source of sacred theology, beyond which 
theological discussion among Christians dare not proceed." (Doctr. 
Theol., p. 28.) This does not mean that the Church should not 
have any articles of faith or any confessions, but it does mean that 
all its articles of faith must be in deed and truth "declarations" 
of the faith that has been delivered to it by God in His holy Word. 
Thus Christians universally accept the ancient confessions of the 
Christian Church because these profess and defend nothing but 
Scripture doctrine. This is true even though the technical theo- 
logical terms which they employ to express the doctrine of God's 
Word, such as "Trinity," "consubstantial," etc., are not found in 
Holy Scripture. So also the specifically Lutheran Confessions, 
which were added at the time of the Eef ormation and after Luther's 
death to defend the doctrine of the Word of God against Romanism, 
sectarianism, and enthusiasm, profess only Scripture doctrine. We 
say this not in a spirit of carnal pride, but in the holy conviction 
of that loyalty to Christ and His Word which He demands of His 
disciples. Dogmas (creeds, confessions) have a rightful place in 
the Christian Church provided they teach the doctrines of God 
and not doctrines of men. If, however, they set forth doctrines 
in opposition to God's Word, they must be renounced and rejected ; 
for the Christian Church must teach the Word of its divine Lord, 
nothing else. 

What has just been said of dogmas and creeds in general 
applies with equal force to the theological treatises of individual 
teachers of the Church. No theologian should be listened to in 
the Church, and no dogmatic treatise should be regarded as worthy 
of consideration, unless they profess and defend the truth which is 



in Christ Jesus. The dogmatician who draws his teachings from 
any other source than Holy Scripture perpetrates an inexcusable 
fraud upon the Church and deserves excommunication from the 
Church as a false prophet, Eom. 16, 17; 2 John 10. 11; 1 Tim. 
4, 16. God's earnest and persistent demand is : "If any man speak, 
let him speak as the oracles of God," 1 Pet. 4, 11. This applies 
to all ministers and teachers who have been called to instruct the 
Christian people in general. Christian ministers, teachers, and 
missionaries must proclaim to their hearers God's Word, not their 
own, so that in the whole Christian Church, in its schools and col- 
leges, in its churches and homes, not one doctrine is taught that is 
not in agreement with Holy Scripture. 

If the dogmas and creeds of the Church are truly and abso- 
lutely Scriptural, they are of great value also for preserving the 
inner connection of the various theological disciplines and securing 
their truly theological character. Commonly we speak of theology 
as dogmatic, historic, exegetic, and practical. This division is both 
practical and useful. It assists the theological student in dis- 
tinguishing one subject from the other and so prevents confusion 
as he takes up the study of sacred theology. Nevertheless, in the 
final analysis the purpose of the various theological disciplines is 
the same; each is to teach God's Word together with its specific 
applications. The dogmatic theologian inculcates with special 
emphasis the several doctrines of Holy Scripture; the exegetic 
theologian sets forth the same doctrines while he expounds to his 
hearers the meaning of the words of the sacred text; the his- 
toric theologian exhibits the same doctrines as they react upon 
men in history; and the practical theologian applies the same 
doctrines to the special needs of the Christian congregation. While, 
therefore, the four theological disciplines may be distinguished 
from one another by their particular scope, they all center in the 
one paramount purpose of proclaiming, expounding, and defending 
the Word of God; and this one purpose, the teaching of God's 
Word, preserves their inner connection, unifying the whole course 
of theology. At the same time this one purpose of inculcating 
God's Word preserves also the truly theological character of each 
discipline. It is this factor that makes historic theology, or exe- 
getic theology, or practical theology, theology in the true sense of 
the term. If historic theology goes beyond the Word of God, it is 
no longer theological; and the same is true of dogmatic, exegetic, 
and practical theology. In short, these branches are theology only 



in as far as they teach and expound the Word of God set forth 
in Holy Scripture. As soon as theologians present their own views, 
they are teaching philosophy or speculation, not theology; for this 
is as much the Word of God as it is the word about God. 

In view of the general apostasy among theologians to-day the 
truth just stated certainly requires constant emphasis. The crisis 
that troubles the Christian Church to day calls for renewed loyalty 
to the Word of God. If the Church is to be healed from its mani- 
fold ills, it must apply the age-old precious remedy which God has 
ordained for the salvation of men, the unadulterated Word of God. 
Christ's command is: "Preach the Gospel," Mark 16, 15. That 
divine injunction binds all Christians, and in particular all Chris- 
tian teachers, to the Word of God for all time. "Quod non est bxbli- 
cum, non est theologicum." This is an axiom which the Chris- 
tian Church must ever respect and heed; if it fails to do this, it 
is an apostate Church and dishonors our Lord, who built His 
Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, He Him- 
self being the chief Corner-stone. 


In the performance of his sacred functions the Christian theo- 
logian must at all times conscientiously keep in mind the true ob- 
jective of his theological activity. The purpose of sacred theology, 
so far as it regards lost and perishing mankind, is not the spread 
of culture, nor the establishment of civic righteousness on earth, 
nor the satisfaction of the intellectual craving of the human mind, 
nor the enrichment of human knowledge, but the eternal salvation 
(ocoxrjQia, salus aeterna) of sinners. In other words, the purpose 
of sacred theology is not academic or speculative, but intensely and 
absolutely practical (habitus practicus); it is to lead perishing 
souls to Christ and through Him to communion with the true God, 
here in time inchoatively and hereafter in eternity perfectly. This 
exalted purpose of Christian theology Holy Scripture expressly 
states in indisputable terms. 1 Tim. 4, 16 : "Take heed unto thy- 
self and unto the doctrine . . . ; for in doing this, thou shalt both 
save thyself and them that hear thee." Mark 16, 15. 16: "Preach 
the Gospel. ... He that believeth . . . shall be saved." If modern 
rationalistic theology rejects eternal salvation as the primary and 
preeminent purpose of sacred theology, it is because this obnoxious 
type of pseudotheology is not Biblical, but carnal; not the divine 
theology of Christ's Gospel, but the man-made theology of a social 



gospel. The Lutheran dogmatician Meisner is right when he de- 
clares: "Whoever does not continually pursue, and keep in mind 
in his entire study (Theorie), this purpose [the salvation of men] 
does not deserve the name of a true theologian." (Lehre und 
Wehre, 14, 76.) 

In accordance with the principle just stated the Lutheran 
divines have defined the purpose of sacred theology as follows: 
"Sacred theology occupies itself with man inasmuch as he is 
a sinner and must be restored to eternal salvation." This defini- 
tion is truly Scriptural. The object of sacred theology is not 
man in general, but homo peccator, or sinful man, for whose sal- 
vation God has sent His only-begotten Son into the world "that 
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting 
life," John 3, 16. True, also the state, or the civil government, 
deals with men as sinners (homines peccatores), but its purpose is 
not the eternal salvation of men, but only their earthly, or temporal, 
welfare, in particular the protection of human life and property. 
Its interest therefore attaches only to this present life, not to the 
life that is to be after death. The state has therefore no jurisdic- 
tion in the sphere of a man's spiritual and eternal life; its func- 
tions cease where this begins. However, to offer to, and bestow 
upon, sinful men eternal happiness in the life to come, and this 
through faith in Christ Jesus, engendered by the divinely insti- 
tuted means of grace, that is the special and proper function of 
sacred theology. Its message to fallen mankind reads: "He that 
believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth 
not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on 
him," John 3, 36. 

The final purpose of sacred theology (finis tdtimns) is there- 
fore the eternal salvation of men. The intermediate purpose ( finis 
intermedins ) may be defined as the generation and preservation of 
saving faith in Christ Jesus unto life eternal. Rom. 1, 5 : "By 
whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the 
faith among all nations, for His name" (that men of all nations 
might be led to obey Christ in true faith). The Christian theo- 
logian therefore performs his holy office, first of all, in order that 
sinners may believe in Christ and obtain salvation through Him. 
But sacred theology effects not only conversion, but also sanctifica- 
tion and good works. This objective the Christian theologian must 
constantly bear in mind, urging with holy zeal those entrusted to 
his care to be zealous of good works. Titus 3, 8 : "These things 




I will that thou affirm constantly that they which have believed 
in God might be careful to maintain good works." However, good 
works are not the means by which eternal salvation is obtained, 
but rather the effects and fruits of faith. Good works, in the 
Scriptural sense of the term, are such works as are done by those 
who already have obtained salvation through faith in Christ. 
Rom. 3, 28 : "A man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the 
Law" ; 6, 22 : "But now, being made free from sin and become 
servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness." Eph. 2, 10 : 
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good 
works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in 
them." From this it follows that all who preach good works as 
a condition or means of salvation are under the curse, Gal. 3, 10. 
On the other hand, the Christian minister who in accordance with 
Holy Scripture proclaims salvation by God's grace alone, through 
the very preaching of the Gospel truly produces good works that 
please God and glorify Him. Titus 2, 14 : "Who gave Himself for 
us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto 
Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." 1 Tim. 6, 18: 
"That they be rich in good works." This does not mean that the 
Christian theologian neglects the divine Law, for the divine Law 
is the Word of God just as truly as the Gospel. But he employs 
the Law in its rightful place, to show what good works are and 
what God demands of the believer with regard to them. The will- 
ingness and power to do good works, however, he produces alone 
through the preaching of the Gospel. The Christian theologian 
must therefore be able rightly to apply both the Law and the 


The external means which the Christian theologian employs 
to accomplish the salvation of sinners are not the carnal weapons 
suggested by man's wisdom, such as external coercion, the sword 
of the civil government, legal enactments, social service, the per- 
fecting of church organization, etc. On such things theologians 
are prone to rely if they are guided by principles of reason, as the 
history of the Christian Church proves. Erring theologians within 
the Christian Church have always advocated carnal means to main- 
tain and spread church power. Holy Scripture, however, condemns 



these means, not only as unprofitable, but as even downright 
injurious. For all of them are based upon the Law ; and while the 
Law can check the gross outbursts of sin and improve the sinner 
outwardly, it cannot change his heart by producing in it true faith 
in Christ. But where there is no true faith in Christ, there is also 
no salvation. Hence the only means by which the Christian theo- 
logian can accomplish his preeminent, divinely prescribed purpose 
of saving sinners unto eternal life is the Gospel of Christ. Matt. 
28, 19. 20 : "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations by 
baptizing them . . . , teaching them to observe all things whatso- 
ever I have commanded you." Mark 16, 15 : "Preach the Gospel to 
every creature." Acts 20, 32 : "I commend you ... to the Word of 
His grace, which is able to build you up." 2 Tim. 3, 15 : "Thou hast 
known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto 
salvation." Rom. 10,17: "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing 
by the Word of God." These divine injunctions of Holy Scripture 
the Christian theologian must constantly bear in mind in order 
that he may not be misled toward relying on any means suggested 
and advanced by his carnal heart, but may exclusively employ the 
powerful, living Word of God, by which alone sinners are trans- 
formed into children of God and governed and kept through faith 
unto salvation. In the Christian Church, as in the entire activity 
of the Christian theologian, the Word of God must rule alone. It is 
the only efficacious means of grace because it alone is prescribed 
by God. Luther very correctly declares: "Christians cannot be 
ruled by any other means than by the Word of God; for Chris- 
tians must be ruled by faith, not by external measures. Faith, 
however, can come only through God's Word, not through any 
word of man, as St. Paul teaches, Eom. 10, 17 : 'Faith cometh by 
hearing and hearing by the Word of God.' " (St. L., X, 406.) Let 
the Christian theologian, then, rely alone on God's Word for the 
successful execution of the work of the holy ministry ; for it alone 
is the imperishable foundation of Christ's holy Church. Cp. 1 Cor. 
3, 10—14. 


The question whether the term science may be applied to 
sacred theology has caused no little debate among theologians. 
Some with great vehemence have affirmed it ; others with the same 
vehemence have denied it. The question itself is not difficult to 
answer, provided the term science is used and understood precisely 
in the same meaning. It is quite obvious that the term science 



as employed in its common meaning cannot be applied to sacred 
theology. Christian theology is not a science in the same sense as, 
for instance, geology, psychology, biology, etc., are sciences. It dif- 
fers from these sciences not only in subject-matter, but also in 
source, method, and purpose. Its subject-matter is the divine truth, 
set forth in Holy Scripture ; its source, the Holy Bible ; its method 
(medium cognoscendi) , faith; its purpose, the salvation of sinners. 
Sacred theology therefore does not deal with human knowledge, or 
man's wisdom, obtained by human study, contemplation, or re- 
search, as do the common sciences established by philosophers and 
scientists. The Christian theologian gains his wisdom directly 
from the Bible, whose truths he receives by faith. The heart of 
sacred theology is the message of Christ's vicarious atonement, 
which was revealed to men from heaven ; for by nature man could 
not know or ascertain it, 1 Cor. 2, 6 — 10. By nature man can know 
only the divine Law, which God has written into his heart, Rom. 
1, 18 ff. ; 2, 14. 15. He has a natural knowledge of God, and this 
innate knowledge of divine things can be developed through reason 
and experience; both intensively and extensively it may be in- 
creased by contemplation and study. But the Gospel of Christ's 
redemption does not lie within the natural knowledge of fallen man. 
It is a "mystery," whose gracious revelation he owes entirely to 
God and which he knows alone through faith in Holy Scripture. 
From all this it is obvious that sacred theology cannot be called 
a science in the ordinary sense of the term. 

Again, sacred theology is not a science in the sense that it 
represents a higher Christian knowledge, which is above the simple 
religion of faith professed by the common Christian and which like 
the human sciences is capable of intellectual apprehension and 
logical demonstration. Sacred theology is not an advanced type of 
Christianity; it is not a philosophy of religion, but deals exclu- 
sively with the revealed truths of Holy Writ, which the theologian 
both accepts and apprehends by faith, John 8, 31. 32; Rom. 1, 5; 
1 Cor. 13, 12. What the Christian theologian knows of divine, spir- 
itual things he knows only from the Word of God. If he knows 
more concerning the divine truths revealed by God than the ordi- 
nary believer, his knowledge exceeds that of the latter merely ex- 
tensively, not intensively ; that is to say, he is conversant with the 
inspired truths of Holy Scripture to a greater extent simply be- 
cause he devotes more time to the study of the Holy Bible than 
the average Christian does. Hence the difference between the 



knowledge of the theologian and that of the ordinary Christian is 
one of degree, not one of kind. By this we mean to say that the 
theologian does not understand the divine mysteries of faith where- 
as the Christian church-member only believes them; for also the 
theologian knows only so much as he believes. To say it in other 
words, also with the Christian theologian, faith is knowledge, and 
knowledge is faith. The philosophical, philological, and historical 
facts which the theologian knows and operates with in contradis- 
tinction to the ordinary believer do not belong to the essence of 
Christian theology, but constitute merely the external scientific 
apparatus, or outward means, by which he approaches and studies 
Holy Scripture. They are merely his tools, or instruments, never 
a source of spiritual knowledge from which he is to draw opinions 
or doctrines beyond and contrary to the Word of God. The attempt 
of modern rationalistic theology to elevate the Christian faith to 
a science is nothing else than self-deception, and in the final 
analysis it is tantamount to the rejection of Holy Scripture as the 
only principle of Christian knowledge, or the only source of faith 
( principium cognoscendi ) . 

Nevertheless Christian theology may be rightly called a science 
if by that term we understand a definite knowledge, or accurate 
and reliable information, in opposition to mere views, opinions, 
and hypotheses. Understood in this sense, Christian theology is 
the science of sciences, or the science par excellence, the perfect 
science. This claim we make and sustain for Christian theology 
because it is God's own infallible wisdom and not the fallible 
wisdom of man. To err is human (errare humanum est), but it is 
impossible for God to err (errare in Deum non cadit). John 
17, 17 : "Thy Word is truth." John 10, 35 : "The Scripture can- 
not be broken." Holy Scripture is in every part inerrant, and 
therefore Christian theology, which is drawn from Holy Scripture, 
is the most definite, most accurate, and most reliable, in fact, the 
only definite, the only accurate, and the only reliable science in 
the world. It is the divine science, which cannot err. 

This is the Christian conviction which every true Christian 
theologian must hold. If he does not have it, if he doubts the 
truth of what he declares and proclaims to his hearers, he is not 
a truly Christian theologian, but a reed shaken with the wind, and 
he has no business at all to teach or preach in the Christian Church. 
A Christian theologian must be so deeply convinced of the truth of 
his message that he is able to say with Paul : "But though we or 



an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that 
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed," Gal. 1, 8. 
This truth must be emphasized over against modern agnostic the- 
ology, which denies the possibility of knowing the truth and claims 
that it is impossible for a theologian to be subjectively assured of 
his possessing the truth. This agnostic denial sets aside Christ's 
definite promise : "If ye continue in My Word, . . . ye shall know 
the truth," John 8, 31. 32. These words are Christ's own guarantee 
that, if in true faith we accept His Word as it is set forth in 
Holy Writ and as we also possess and confess it in our Christian 
dogmas, creeds, and confessions, we shall become convinced of 
its absolute truth. Faith is always assurance of the truth as it 
is revealed in the Bible and presented in Christian theology, or 
doctrine. Nor is such assurance a mere personal or human con- 
viction (fides humana), produced by evidence of reason, but it is 
a divine assurance (fides divina), produced directly by the Holy 
Ghost through the Word of God. 1 Cor. 2, 5 : "That your faith 
should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." 
John 16, 13: "When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will 
guide you into all truth." By the Holy Spirit, through the ex- 
ternal Word of Holy Scripture, the Christian theologian is so 
guided into all truth that he can know and teach with absolute 
certainty the truth which is in Christ Jesus. 1 Cor. 2, 12 : "We 
have received . . . the Spirit, which is of God, that we might know 
the things that are freely given to us of God." True Christian 
theology is therefore no less certain than is Holy Scripture, and 
the Christian theologian must be no less assured of the truth of 
the doctrine which he teaches than He is of the objective truth of 
Holy Scripture. Luther very aptly remarks: "The Holy Spirit 
is no skeptic and has not written doubts or opinions in our hearts, 
but statements of fact, which are more certain and firm than life 
itself with all its experiences." (St. L., XVIII, 1680.) — Christian 
theology is therefore justly called a science, because it is a knowl- 
edge that is absolutely true and certain. 

In spite of this fact, however, it is preferable not to define 
Christian theology primarily as a science, because the term science 
is subject to so much misunderstanding and downright abuse. 
Modern rationalistic theology invariably employs the term to denote 
by it the scientific demonstration of divine truth in accord with 
the principles of human reason. Fundamentally it regards the- 
ology as only a more exalted form of philosophy, and hence it 



applies to it the same principles and methods which are ordinarily 
employed to demonstrate philosophical truths. Against this mode 
of procedure the Christian theologian must needs object ; for Chris- 
tian theology with its revealed mysteries is incapable of rational 
proof or intellectual demonstration. 1 Cor. 2, 14 : "The natural 
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, . . . neither can 
he know them." As long as a person is unconverted, no amount of 
reasoning will render the divine truths of revelation acceptable 
to him; in fact, the more he allows his reason to mull over them, 
the more foolish and unreasonable they will seem to him. Hence 
philosophy can never lead to faith ; invariably it leads away from 
true faith, as the "theology" of modern rationalistic theologians 
proves. Since, then, human reason is incapable of apprehending 
the divine mysteries of faith intellectually, Christ simply charged 
His apostles to preach the Gospel and not to demonstrate it ration- 
ally to men, Mark 16, 15. 16. They were to go out and proclaim 
the truth, but not to turn their divinely given message into 
a philosophical system acceptable to natural man. In accordance 
with this command, St. Paul testifies of his ministry at Corinth : 
"My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of 
man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power," 
1 Cor. 2, 4. 

On the basis of the truth just stated our dogmaticians defined 
sacred theology as a habitus exhibitivus, not as a habitus demon- 
strativus. By this they meant to say that Christian theology is 
the ability to exhibit, or preach, the Gospel, but not to prove it 
true by human arguments of reason or philosophy. As the Christian 
theologian proclaims the truth, he wins souls for Christ, but not 
as he endeavors to prove true the mysteries of faith by principles 
of human reason. This also is the meaning of the axiom: "The 
best apology of the Christian religion is its proclamation." Let the 
Gospel be made known, and it will of itself prove its divine char- 
acter. Christian apologetics has therefore only one function : it is 
to show the unreasonableness of unbelief. Never can it demon- 
strate the truth with "enticing words of man's wisdom." The 
reason for this is evident. Unbelief is as unreasonable as it is 
untrue ; it projects the plea of intelligence, while at the bottom of 
it lies the vicious tendency to do that which is evil. John 3, 20 : 
"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh he 
to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." To expose this 
malice of the carnal heart and to demonstrate the folly of infidelity 



in upholding its vicious claims is all that can be expected of Chris- 
tian apologetics. Never can Christian apologetics take the place of 
the simple preaching of the Word of God. — In this connection it 
may also be stated that there are no scientific reasons against 
the Christian faith. Wherever the Christian faith is opposed, the 
opposition has its source not in true science, but in vicious in- 
fidelity. The rejection of revealed divine truth can in no case be 
justified on reasonable grounds; it is the perverted reason of man 
only that disavows the truth which is in Christ Jesus. 


In the preceding chapter we pointed out the truism that the 
Christian theologian must be personally sure of the truth which 
he teaches. The question how this positive subjective assurance 
may be secured (erkenritrm-theoretische Frage) is being dis- 
cussed with much vigor within both the conservative and the 
liberalistic camps. Quite commonly it is thought to be a problem 
involving most serious difficulties. These difficulties, however, ap- 
pear only if the theologian surrenders the objective truth of Holy 
Scripture. As long as he accepts Scripture as the only source and 
norm of faith, the question is indeed a most simple one. Our 
divine Lord teaches emphatically both that personal Christian as- 
surance exists and that it is obtained through faith in His Word. 
John 8, 31. 32 : "If ye continue in My Word, ... ye shall know 
the truth." This faith, which in itself is perfect assurance, is 
effected through the Word of God by the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 2, 5 : 
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in 
the power of God." Luther rightly says: "Man is certain pas- 
sively, just as the Word of God is certain actively." (Homo est 
certus passive, sicut Verbum Dei est cerium active.) That means 
according to Luther's own explanation: "Where this [God's] 
Word enters the heart with a true faith, it makes the heart as firm, 
sure, and certain as it is itself, so that it [the heart] becomes so 
absolutely firm and hard against every temptation, the devil, death, 
or whatever it may be that it boldly and proudly despises, and 
mocks at, everything that would doubt, tremble, be evil, or angry, 
for it knows that the Word of God cannot lie." (St. L., Ill, 1887.) 
This statement is truly Scriptural. Personal, or subjective, assur- 
ance is most certainly obtained through the Word of God, and only 
through the Word of God, as Holy Scripture testifies. On the 
other hand, every kind of subjective assurance which does not flow 



from God's Word through faith is self-made and hence nothing 
but ignorance and self-deception, 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4. 

This is the Christian theologian's reply to the false claim of 
modern rationalistic theology, which asserts that the real personal, 
or subjective, assurance is "self-assurance" (Selbstgewissheit) , or 
assurance which the theologian owes to his own regenerate self. 
This error, which was first proposed by Schleiermacher, has been 
quite generally adopted, even by theologians of the positive wing. 
This erroneous view rejects Holy Scripture as the only source and 
norm of faith; and so its advocates rely on their "Christian con- 
sciousness" or their "Christian experience" as the norm of their 
faith. Accordingly their "Christian theology" is built not exclu- 
sively on Holy Scripture, but on their "regenerate heart" or their 
own "sanctified ego"; and it is from this that they propose to 
derive their positive personal assurance of divine truth. But every 
assurance thus obtained must be rejected as false, since it is neither 
Christian nor scientific nor assurance at all. It is not Christian 
because it discards the specifically Christian foundation of faith; 
it is not scientific because it makes the human mind an authority 
in matters of which natural man is totally ignorant; it is, lastly, 
not assurance, but imagination, because the Christian theologian 
can know the divine truth only in so far as he continues in the 
Word of God. The unchristian character of modern rationalistic 
theology proves conclusively that it is impossible to draw the Chris- 
tian faith from any other source than Holy Scripture; for this 
brand of theology does not only reject the specific doctrines of the 
Christian religion, but it also sets up contradictory teachings in 
opposition to Holy Scripture and the Christian faith. Thus modern 
rationalistic theology denies the Scriptural doctrine of justification 
by grace, through faith, and teaches in its place salvation by work- 
righteousness. Such "assurance" therefore rests upon grounds 
which God's Word positively condemns. 

In short, divine truth can be known by men, or what is the 
same thing, the human mind is capable of personal assurance of 
the divine truth. But this assurance is actual only if the theo- 
logian clings to Holy Scripture and in simple faith believes what 
God has spoken in His written Word. It is the unique character- 
istic of the Word of God both that it is absolute truth and that it 
renders the believer absolutely certain of its being such. If this is 
denied, the possibility and actuality of faith must likewise be 
denied ; for personal assurance is nothing else than personal faith* 




Modern rationalistic theology of both wings, the conservative 
no less than the liberalistic, demands theological progress, or doc- 
trinal development, in accord with the advanced and ever-advancing 
religions vogues of the age (LehrfortbUdung). Its claim is that 
Christian theology cannot be stagnant, but must adjust itself to 
the varying views of the times. So insistent it is with regard to 
this matter that it brands all Christian theologians who oppose 
doctrinal development as unfaithful to their high commission. In 
modern rationalistic circles loyal theologians, who cling to Holy 
Scripture as the only norm of faith, are styled "repristinating 
theologians" (Repristinationstheologen) , a term that implies both 
censure and contempt. 

However, as a matter of fact theological progress, or doctrinal 
development, is impossible and must be condemned as apostasy 
from the Christian faith. The reason for this is obvious. Accord- 
ing to Holy Scripture Christian theology constitutes a unit, which 
is complete and perfect in itself and hence incapable of either addi- 
tion or subtraction. Matt. 28, 20 : "Teaching theiti to observe all 
things whatsoever I have commanded you." 2 Thess. 2, 15 : "Stand 
fast and hold the traditions [the doctrines] which ye have been 
taught." Rev. 22, 18 : "If any man shall add unto these things, 
God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." 
Christian theology, or Christian doctrine, is therefore, according to 
the express teachings of Holy Scripture, a fixed body of divine 
truths, which must never be altered, neither increased by human 
additions nor diminished by omissions of any kind. The Christian 
theologian must acknowledge and proclaim "all the counsel of God." 
Cp. Acts 20, 20. 21. 27 : "I kept back nothing that was profitable 
unto you, but have showed you and have taught you publicly and 
from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the 
Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus 
Christ. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel 
of God." In addition to this Holy Scripture very emphatically 
affirms that the Church of Christ is built "upon the foundation 
of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief 
Corner-stone," Eph. 2, 20. The "foundation of the apostles and 
prophets" is the fixed doctrine which these holy men have written 
in Holy Writ by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. So also our Lord 
declares that those who are saved shall be saved through the Word 
of the apostles, John 17, 20. Moreover, the Word of God warns all 



believers most impressively against all errorists that pervert this 
fixed and definite Word either through addition or subtraction. 
Acts 20, 29 : "After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in 
among you, not sparing the flock." 1 Tim. 4, 1 : "In the latter 
times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing 
spirits and doctrines of devils." Hence both Christ and His 
apostles declare that the Christian doctrine is a perfect and com- 
plete body of inspired truths, which must be preserved pure and 
unadulterated. Every possibility of doctrinal progress, or develop- 
ment, is therefore excluded. Evolution in the realm of doctrine or 
theology is as preposterous and unscriptural as it is in the realm of 
nature, or creation. Holy Scripture affirms positively that the same 
God who made man also gave to him the divine doctrine by which 
he must be saved. Over this divine doctrine man has no jurisdic- 
tion; it is God's sanctuary, which sinful man must not defile 
either by addition or subtraction, or, to use the modern euphemism, 
by doctrinal development. 

To this the objection has been raised that the Christian Church 
has at all times actually developed the Christian doctrine by estab- 
lishing creeds and confessions. But this objection involves an in- 
tolerable fallacy. In its creeds the Christian Church has never 
developed the Christian doctrine, but only declared the express 
doctrine of Holy Scripture in its full truth and purity against 
the errors of heretics and schismatics. Thus the Apostles' Creed, 
the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the like, are not 
declarations of new, man-made teachings, but the very doctrines 
of Christ and His apostles set forth in Holy Scripture. When- 
ever the formulation of creeds necessitated the coining of terms 
not found in Holy Scripture (6/lloovoios, deozoxog, mere pas- 
sive, etc.), this was done only to present the Scriptural doctrine 
in clearer light, but never to foist man-devised and unscriptural 
teachings upon the Christian Church. So also the particular 
Lutheran Confessions are only specific declarations of the Scrip- 
tural doctrine against the errors of Romanism, Calvinism, and 
enthusiasm. Luther writes very truthfully : "We fabricate nothing 
new, but retain, and hold to, the old Word of God as the ancient 
Church confessed it; hence we are, just like it, the true ancient 
Church, teaching and believing the same Word of God. For this 
reason the papists blaspheme Christ Himself, the apostles, and 
the whole Christian Church when they call us innovationists and 
heretics. For they find nothing with us but the old [doctrine] of 
the ancient Church." (St.L., XVII, 1324.) 



That theological progress, or doctrinal development, is in- 
trinsically impossible is proved experimentally by the fact that all 
attempts to develop the Christian doctrine have invariably led to 
the perversion of divine truth. Modern rationalistic theology, 
which champions doctrinal development as a prerequisite for the 
continued existence of the Church, has completely surrendered the 
very doctrines with which Christianity stands or falls, such as 
the doctrines of inspiration, of the vicarious atonement of Christ, 
of justification by grace alone, through faith, etc. Its doctrinal 
development has proved so fatal that it has virtually destroyed 
Christian theology and enthroned in its place a paganistic body of 
principles and teachings. And the reason for this is not hard to 
find. At the foundation of all doctrinal development lies the blind, 
perverse, and satanic rationalism of the carnal heart, which cannot 
bear the sound doctrine of God's holy Word and consequently is de- 
termined to teach what is opposed to the saving truth which is in 
Christ Jesus. Our divine Lord condemned this rationalistic spirit 
of unbelief when He told the Pharisees: "Ye are of your father 
the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He abode not 
in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh 
a lie, he speaketh of his own ; for he is a liar and the father of it/* 
John 8, 44. Let the Christian theologian remember that the Chris- 
tian religion is the absolute religion, which is so complete and per- 
fect in itself that St. Paul could write: "But though we or an 
angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that 
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed," Gal. 1, 8. 
If sound Biblical theology must go by the name of "repristination 
theology," then let the Christian theologian glory in that term. 
For that is the only kind of theology which deserves a place in 
the Christian Church, since it is the only kind of theology which 
Jesus Christ, the Head and King of the Church, recognizes as true 
and divine. May God in His mercy retain in His Church "repris- 
tinating theologians"! For they are theologians after His heart, 
whom He will honor and glorify throughout eternity as the true 
builders of His Zion. 


Modern rationalistic theology demands that the official teachers 
of the Church, both in the pulpit and in the lecture chair, should 
be invested with full academic freedom. That is to say, they should 
be allowed to assert their subjective opinions, without any restric- 
tions whatsoever; even Holy Scripture must not be forced upon 



them as the only source and standard of the faith which they are 
to inculcate. The ancient Christian rule that in the Christian 
Church the Word of God alone must be taught is rejected as "servi- 
tude of the letter," "unworthy academic coercion," "legalism," etc. 
( Buchstabenlcnechtschaft, unwuerdiger Lehrzwang, gesetzlicher 
Oeist u$w\). However, this demand for academic freedom is in 
direct opposition to Holy Scripture; it is a freedom that is carnal 
and ungodly, since it involves full scope to criticize, condemn, and 
reject the Word of God. The academic freedom which modern 
rationalistic theology seeks for itself must therefore be repudiated 
as antichristian and atheistic; for it insists upon freedom from 
God and Christ. 

As a matter of fact the true freedom of a Christian con- 
sists in this, that he has been liberated from his own sin-bound 
will and has become a servant of Jesus Christ. Eom. 6, 22 : "But 
now being made free from sin and become servants of God." The 
essence of true Christian liberty is therefore loyalty, obedience, and 
subjection to the Word of the Lord. John 8,31. 32: "If ye con- 
tinue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall 
know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." As soon as 
the theologian relinquishes the Word of God as his only source 
and norm, he ceases to be a dovXog Xqioxov and becomes a slave 
of men. Then he has not obtained freedom at all, but has ex- 
changed the holy service of Christ for the unholy thraldom of 
human opinions, views, and judgments; in place of the divine 
Master he now serves a human taskmaster, even if this taskmaster 
is only his own carnal heart. How wrong it is for a theologian 
to demand freedom to teach his subjective views in place of the 
infallible Word of God becomes clear as we carefully consider what 
Holy Scripture teaches with respect to this. 

a. The Word of God affirms that the Christian Church till the 
end of time has only one Teacher, Christ Jesus, the Son of God. 
Matt. 23, 8 : "But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, 
even Christ; and all ye are brethren." As the one Master, or 
Teacher, Christ commanded His apostles to teach all nations all 
things whatsoever He has commanded, Matt. 28, 20. Christ's own 
divine Word as set forth by the holy prophets and apostles in the 
Scriptures is the only saving truth, which the Christian Church 
should believe and proclaim. Gal. 1, 8 : "But though we or an 
angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that 
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Eph. 2, 20 : 
"And [ye] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and 



prophets." In this manner Holy Scripture positively asserts that 
all teaching in the Christian Church should be nothing else than 
the teaching of God's Word. Negatively, Holy Scripture condemns 
the inculcation of human opinion in place of the Word of God by 
calling all those who insist upon teaching doctrine other than 
Christ teaches in Holy Scripture, antichrists. 1 John 2, 18 : "As 
ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many 
antichrists" ; v. 22 : "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus 
is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the 
Son." The demand of modern rationalistic theology that the theo- 
logian must be given free scope to present his own theology is 
therefore thoroughly anti-Scriptural. 

b. All Christians are commanded in clear and unmistakable 
terms to hear such teachers only as proclaim the Word of God in 
its complete truth and purity. All theologians who are disloyal to 
the "words of our Lord Jesus Christ" should be rejected as de- 
ceivers, ignoramuses, and enemies of the faith and must be 
avoided. 2 John 10 : "If there come any unto you and bring not 
this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him 
Godspeed." 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4: "If any man teach otherwise and 
consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, ... he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting." 
Rom. 16, 17 : "Mark them which cause divisions and offenses con- 
trary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them." 
These warnings apply not only to ministers of the Gospel, but also 
to theological professors, who have been called to instruct the future 
teachers and preachers of the Christian Church. Also their Chris- 
tian call and profession requires of them that they be absolutely 
true to the Word of God in their whole ministry of teaching, 
John 8, 81. 32. 

The disastrous consequences of academic freedom granted to 
ministers and theological professors are apparent in all churches 
where such freedom has been in vogue. As a result of this ungodly 
freedom we find in these denominations: 1) hopeless confusion in 
doctrine and endless wrangling concerning theological problems, by 
which these churches have been made to suffer complete disruption 
(e. g., the denominations in which Modernists and Fundamentalists 
are engaged in interminable controversy) ; 2) the absolute denial 
of the basic Christian truths taught in Holy Scripture, such as 
the divine inspiration of the Bible, the vicarious atonement of 
Christ, the justification of a sinner by grace, through faith, the 



resurrection of the dead, etc. Academic freedom resulted at once 
in "progressive theology," that is, in the liberalizing of theology 
according to the standards of human reason and modern science, 
until it has become thoroughly anti-Biblical. Present-day Mod- 
ernism, which is the direct consequence of academic freedom, is 
a complete revolt against the sacred theology of God's Word and 
is in itself the rejection of Biblical Christianity. 

The true Christian theologian rejoices in the possession of 
divine truth as offered in Holy Scripture, by which he has become 
free from every delusion and error. His constant endeavor is to 
make known to men bound and perishing in sin the saving and 
liberating truths of Christ, the divine Liberator of sin-lost men. 
Loyalty, obedience, and subjection to the Word of God constitute 
for him the supreme, glorious, and perfect liberty, which he must 
hold, guard, and protect against all odds. John 8, 36 : "If the Son 
therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." It is for 
this reason that he so strenuously repudiates the academic freedom 
which unbelieving and unfaithful theologians now demand for 


The peculiar nature of Christian theology has given rise to 
the question whether it is proper in the field of theology to speak 
of theological systems. The answer to the question depends of 
course on the meaning in which the term system is used. Christian 
theology, or doctrine, is indeed a system inasmuch as it presents to 
the student a complete unit (ein abgeschlossenes Ganzes). It is 
a system inasmuch as it is "an orderly arrangement of parts or 
elements into a whole" or "an organized body of truth." The one 
author of Christian theology is the one, true, and living God, who 
proclaims the divine truth in the Old as well as in the New Testa- 
ment, by Moses no less than by Paul, so that Holy Scripture sets 
forth, not the subjective views of Moses, or Isaiah, or Peter, or 
Paul, or John, etc., but the sacred doctrine of God Himself. 
Scripture doctrine is everywhere and in the same degree divine 
doctrine (doctrina divina). 

Again, in this divine doctrine, clearly and infallibly stated in 
Holy Scripture, the article of justification by grace, through faith 
in Christ, is the central teaching, to which the other articles of 
faith either lead up (articuli antecedent es) or point back (articvXi 
consequent es). 1 Cor. 2, 2: "I determined not to know anything 
among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Acts 20, 27 : 



4€ I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." 
In all of St. Paul's preaching, which, according to his own testi- 
mony, embraced "all the counsel of God" unto salvation, the doc- 
trine of Christ Crucified for the sins of the world was basic and 

In view of this close connection of the various Christian doc- 
trines with its central teaching and with one another, a connection 
which is so intimate that errors in one point must inevitably pro- 
duce errors also in the others, Christian theology may certainly be 
called a system. And we apply the term especially to point out 
not only the absolute unity of the whole body of truth, but also 
the perfect coherency of its elemental parts. Luther is right in 
saying: "In philosophy a small error in the beginning is a very 
serious error in the end. So also in theology a slight error will 
destroy the whole doctrine. For the doctrine is like a mathematical 
point; it cannot be divided, that is, it cannot brook either sub- 
traction or addition. Hence the doctrine must be one certain, 
perpetual, and round golden ring, in which there is no break. 
If even the least break occurs, the ring is no longer perfect." 
(St. L., IX, 644 f.) Whoever, for instance, errs with respect to the 
Holy Trinity must err also with regard to the deity of Christ; 
or whoever teaches synergism cannot teach in its unadulterated 
form the doctrine of divine grace. Just because Christian theology 
is a system, it does not permit any perversion or denial of a single 
one of its doctrines; for every perversion of its constituent parts 
must necessarily destroy the entire system. 

Nevertheless Christian theology may not be called a system 
in the sense in which human systems of knowledge are so called. 
In science and philosophy a system is "an orderly collection of 
logically related principles and facts, arranged so as to express the 
whole range of truth in any department." In that sense sacred 
theology is not a system ; for it is not constructed by human reason 
on the basis of a given fundamental principle. Its author is not 
man, but God. In it reason has only an instrumental, not a magis- 
terial, function (usus instrumentalis, non usus magisterialis). Nor 
does it deduce and demonstrate its truths from a given premise or 
principle, but it merely inculcates the truths set forth in Holy 
Scripture, with the proper emphasis on the cardinal doctrine of 
justification by grace. In other words, the analysis and synthesis 
which the theologian applies never go beyond the Word of God. 
Wherever Holy Scripture contains lacunae, or omissions, the system 
of the Christian theologian likewise contains lacunae, or omissions. 



The true theologian teaches only what Holy Scripture teaches, not 
more and not less. His system is only a declaration and statement 
of Scriptural doctrine. 

This is a point of the greatest importance, and only as the 
theologian continually and conscientiously observes it, will he be 
kept from the fatal mistake of adding to the Word of God human 
opinions and doctrines, a perversion of Christian doctrine against 
which Holy Scripture most earnestly warns. Let the Christian 
theologian therefore bear in mind the basic truth that in the system 
of Christian doctrine, while it is complete so far as its scope is 
concerned, that is, so far as it pertains to the salvation of sinners, 
we may nevertheless speak of "missing links" ; that is, there remain 
questions which Scripture does not answer. For example, Holy 
Scripture sets forth most emphatically the sola gratia and the 
universalis gratia; that is to say, sinners are saved solely by grace, 
and divine grace desires the salvation of all sinners. This being 
true, the question arises: "Why, then, are not all men saved ?" 
The proposed explanation that the difference lies in men (aliquid 
discrimen in homine), since some are better than others, is most 
strenuously denied by God's Word, which declares that all men by 
nature are in the same guilt (in eadem culpa). Kom. 3, 22 — 24: 
"For there is no difference ; for all have sinned and come short of 
the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the 
redemption that is in Christ Jesus." 

With the same emphasis Holy Scripture denies also the Cal- 
vinistic explanation that God has eternally predetermined some to 
damnation. Hence it is clear that Holy Scripture does not answer 
the question Cur alii, alii nonf This does not mean that Holy 
Scripture does not give us any information with regard to the 
question of salvation and damnation. It tells us clearly that, if 
sinners are saved, they are saved solely by grace and that, if they 
are lost, they are lost through their own fault. Nevertheless, when 
we compare two individual sinners, as David and Saul, or Peter 
and Judas, and ask, "Why was the one saved and the other not?" 
(Cur alii prae aliisf), this question remains unanswered. Nor is 
it proper for the Christian theologian to endeavor to answer the 
question ; for in that case he must draw on human reason to decide 
what is properly a matter of divine revelation. Attempts to solve 
the particular point in question have resulted either in Calvinism, 
the denial of universal grace, or in synergism, the denial of grace 
alone. But the Christian theologian must affirm both the univer- 




salis gratia and the sola gratia. In the system of Christian doc- 
trine therefore lacunae, or doctrinal "missing links," must be ad- 
mitted, as St. Paul himself declares when he writes : "We know in 
part, and we prophesy in part," 1 Cor. 13, 9. The Christian theo- 
logian must know and teach in part only, that is, only as the divine 
truths which he is to inculcate are clearly set forth in Holy 
Scripture. In connection with this point we may note also the 
following truths : — 

a. Holy Scripture, in all its parts, is the divinely inspired, 
infallible Word of God, in which He teaches man the only way to 
salvation. To this way of salvation, which is both complete and 
perfect, the Christian theologian must add nothing, neither must 
he take away from it even the least particle, John 10, 35; 2 Tim. 
3, 16 ; 2 Pet. 1, 21 ; John 8, 31. 32 ; Eev. 22, 18—20. Any change 
or perversion of the divine Word is a scandal, which offends God 
and ultimately renders impossible the salvation of sinners, which 
God has purposed by giving His Word to men. 

b. Modern rationalistic theology, which denies the funda- 
mentals of the Christian doctrine for the very reason that it rejects 
the divinely inspired Word of God as the only source and norm of 
faith, seeks to construct its own unified system of teachings (ein 
einheitliches Oanzes) on the basis of "Christian consciousness," 
"Christian experience," "regenerate reason," etc. In other words, 
it substitutes for the true principium cognoscendi a false standard 
of doctrine and dethrones Holy Scripture from its exalted eminence 
of being the only authority in religion. To the modern rational- 
istic theologian Holy Scripture is only an "authentic record" of 
divine revelation, in which divine and human elements are incon- 
gruously blended and from which his "enlightened mind" must 
glean the truths that are to constitute his "system of theology." 
Or to state it in different terms, modern rationalistic theology re- 
fuses to identify the Word of God with Holy Scripture; for it 
regards Holy Scripture as only containing the Word of God. These 
theologians hold that the subjective judgment of the individual 
must decide just what is the Word of God, or divine truth, in Holy 
Scripture. This procedure must be condemned as a crimen laesae 
maiestatis against the divine Lord, as a revolt against His divinely 
established authority, and as a downright rejection of His holy 
Word, which must result in unspeakable confusion and perversion. 
This is evident from the fact that the pantheistic system of 
Schleiermacher and the modernistic system of Ritschl, both of 



which are built up on the subjective authority of human reason, 
equally reject the Gospel of Christ and inculcate doctrines in direct 
opposition to it. The appeal of rationalistic theologians to "Chris- 
tian consciousness," "Christian experience," and the like, as foun- 
dations of systems of faith are a mere pretense to conceal their 
unholy endeavor of casting aside Holy Scripture and its divine 
doctrines and teaching their own word. 

c. The Christian theologian, in performing his functions as 
a teacher of the Church, must always remember that all the state- 
ments of Holy Scripture are infallible truths, which nothing can 
overthrow, and that it is therefore his sacred duty to present these 
truths just as they are set forth in Holy Scripture, without addi- 
tion or subtraction. Systems of philosophy or of science are con- 
structed by human reasoning on the basis of facts or theories gath- 
ered by the originator himself; but sacred theology is a science 
which God Himself, its divine Author, presents to men complete 
and perfect and altogether adequate for its divinely designed 
purpose. Hence men are to preach the Word of God and not to 
philosophize about it ; they are to be preachers, not demonstrators, 
of the truth. The Christian theologian has completely accom- 
plished his task if he has set forth clearly and unmistakably the 
sacred truths taught by God in Holy Scripture. Nothing more is 
asked of him, but also nothing less. 

d. The Christian theologian's work of systematizing therefore 
consists only in presenting the several divine truths given in Holy 
Scripture under their proper heads. These truths are derived 
from the proof -passages (sedes doctrinae), that is, from the clear 
and unmistakable passages in which the particular doctrines are 
set forth, and not from the "entirety of Scripture" or the "scope 
of Scripture" (vom Schriftganzen). The purpose of this system- 
atizing is to present "all the counsel of God," or to teach each and 
every doctrine which God's Word teaches. If the theologian goes 
beyond this, if he presents his own personal views as the teaching 
of God's Word, he is no longer a Christian theologian, but a false 

e. The charge so frequently made that Luther himself devel- 
oped his doctrines, in particular the doctrine of justification by 
grace, is refuted by his own statements on this point. According 
to his own confession the great Reformer never operated with "the 
scope of Scripture," but with Scripture-passages so clear and un- 
mistakable that upon these his doctrines rested as upon an im- 



pregnable rock. It is for this reason that Luther's theology is so 
thoroughly Scriptural. He constructed no system of doctrine out- 
side and beyond the written Word of God, but received and taught 
in simple faith the sacred truths positively set forth in the sedes 
doctrinae of Holy Scripture. He was a systematician whose whole 
system of doctrine was rooted in, and governed by, God's Word. 
He writes: "It is certain that whosoever does not rightly believe 
or desire one single article . . . certainly does not believe any at all 
with true earnestness and right faith. And whosoever is so pre- 
sumptuous as to deny God or call Him a liar in one word [of Scrip- 
ture], and does this deliberately, . . . will also deny God in all His 
words and in all of them call Him a liar. Therefore it is necessary 
to believe all and everything truly and fully or else believe nothing. 
The Holy Spirit does not allow Himself to be separated or divided, 
so that He should teach or have us believe one doctrine as true and 
another as false/' (St.L., XX, 1781.) 

f. In conclusion it may be said that the rationalistic systems 
of theology, which pride themselves so smugly on their inner 
harmony and perfection, are after all decidedly imperfect and in- 
complete. They cannot be otherwise, since human reason is unable 
to answer in a satisfactory manner the paramount questions which 
properly belong to the sphere of divine revelation. In other words, 
unless God answers for us the questions pertaining to the great 
verities of spiritual knowledge, they never will be answered. 
Consequently, wherever the Holy Spirit, the infallible Revealer of 
divine truth, saw fit to be silent with respect to doctrinal issues, 
human reason must likewise be silent. Theologians who propose 
to construct complete systems of truth on the basis of their reason 
or their subjective theology perpetrate a piece of fraud which is 
unpardonable and which leads to downright apostasy from the 
Word of God, to uncertainty in spiritual matters, and to endless 
confusion and contradiction. For all who err from Scripture err 
from truth in general; and the systems of doctrine that are not 
Scriptural are likewise not rational. For this the history of dogma 
furnishes abundant proof. 


In the presentation of the dogmatic material Lutheran divines 
have employed, in the main, two methods, the synthetic and the 
analytic. The synthetic method proceeds from cause to effect, while 
the analytic method pursues the opposite course, from effect to 
cause. Synthetically arranged, the dogmatic grouping presents, 



first, God as the Cause and Principle of all things created; next, 
the means by which sinful and apostate mankind is brought back 
to communion with God ; and lastly, the glorious salvation itself to 
which the believer attains. Analytically, the dogmatic material 
would be grouped as follows: Salvation, as the final objective of 
man; next, the means by which salvation is attained; and lastly, 
God as the divine Giver and Author of salvation. 

The analytical method has been preferred by the later theo- 
logians of the Lutheran Church for the avowed reason that the- 
ology, being a practical subject, should first present man's final goal 
as the vital idea in Christian doctrine. After all, however, the 
grouping of the doctrinal material is of little consequence as long 
as Holy Scripture is recognized as the only source and standard 
of faith, from which alone the theologian must draw his teachings. 
If the doctrine is taken from any other source than Holy Scrip- 
ture, either method is equally unsatisfactory; if the theologian 
remains loyal to God's Word, both methods may be employed with 
equal success. In the final analysis, not the method of presenting 
the theological material, but faithfulness to Scripture, is the prime 
requisite of a good dogmatic treatise. 

The synthetic method was commonly used within the Lutheran 
Church by the early dogmaticians, such as Melanchthon, Chemnitz, 
Hutter, Gerhard. The analytic method was followed by Dann- 
hauer, Koenig, Calov, Quenstedt, Baier, Hollaz, and others. Occa- 
sionally we find a combination of the two methods. The time is 
past when a dogmatic treatise is judged by its method, though 
a modified form of the synthetic method perhaps is now given the 
preference. But what the Christian Church must demand of all 
dogmatic treatises or books is a clear, thorough, and practical 
presentation of the Scriptural truths. The only theology which 
deserves a place in Christ's Church is the sacred theology which 
God Himself has given in Holy Scripture. Prom this surpassing 
treasure of divine truth the Christian theologian dare not deviate 
in the slightest; if he does, he is disloyal to the charge entrusted 
to him. In his system of theology the two distinctive principles of 
the Christian faith, the sola Scriptura and the sola gratia, must 
stand preeminent ; otherwise his entire theology becomes rational- 
istic, paganistic, and destructive, a disgrace to the name of Christ 
and a menace to His Church. Quod non est biblicum, non est the- 
ologicum. All dogma that is not founded upon this axiom does 
not deserve the name of Christian theology. 




Our Lutheran dogmaticians have rightly emphasized the great 
truth that "the theologian is not born, but made." (Theologus non 
nascitur, sed fit.) By this axiom they wished to say that no man 
by nature is a theologian nor can become a theologian by his own 
reason or strength. Theology is a God-given habitude. (Theologia 
est habitus practicus dedodoxog.) Hence the Holy Spirit Himself 
must make a person a theologian. How the Holy Spirit accom- 
plishes this is excellently described by Luther in the famous dic- 
tum: Oratio, meditatio, tentatio faciunt theologum. This is the 
best description of theological methodology which has ever been 
attempted; for it names, briefly, yet fully, all the elements that 
cooperate in the making of a true theologian. 

It recognizes first of all the necessity of prayer. With regard 
to prayer as a means by which to acquire the theological habitude, 
Luther writes : "For this reason you should despair of your wisdom 
and reason; for with these you will acquire nothing, but by your 
arrogance cast yourself and others into the pit of hell, as did 
Lucifer. Kneel down in your chamber and ask God in true 
humility and seriousness to grant you His Holy Spirit through 
His beloved Son in order that He may enlighten you, guide you, 
and grant you a true wisdom." (St. L., XIV, 434 if.) That sin- 
cere and constant prayer is an indispensable factor in the acquisi- 
tion of the theological habitude is attested not only by all true 
theologians who have served the Christian Church in the spirit of 
its divine Lord, but also by Holy Scripture itself. John 15, 7. 8 : 
"If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what 
ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glori- 
fied that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples"; 16, 24: 
"Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." Jas. 1, 5 : 
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all 
men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." 

The second requisite in Luther's methodology is meditation, 
or study. Of this Luther writes : "In the second place, you should 
meditate, and not only in your heart, but also outwardly, the oral 
Word and the express words that are written in the Book, which 
you must always consider and reconsider and read and read over 
with diligent attention and reflection to see what the Holy Ghost 
means thereby. And take care that you do not become weary of it, 
thinking that you have read it sufficiently if you have read, heard, 
or said it once or twice and understand it perfectly. For in this 



way no great theologian is made, but they [who do not study] are 
like immature fruit, which falls down before it is half ripe. For 
this reason you see in this psalm [Ps. 119] that David is always 
boasting that he would speak, meditate, declare, sing, hear, read, 
day and night and forever, yet nothing else than alone the Word 
and the commandments of God. For God does not purpose to 
give you His Spirit without the external Word. Be guided by that. 
For He did not command in vain to write, preach, read, hear, sing, 
and declare His external Word." By meditation, Luther, then, 
understands the constant study of Holy Scripture as the pure and 
infallible Word of God, by which the Holy Ghost not only converts 
and sanctifies sinners, but also renders the theologian capable of 
doing the work of a truly Christian teacher in the fear of God, in 
other words, by which He bestows the theological habitude. It is 
clear that such constant study of God's Word is commanded also 
in Holy Scripture. 1 Tim. 4, 13 : "Till I come, give attendance to 
reading"; v. 15: "Meditate upon these things ; give thyself wholly 
to them, that thy profiting may appear to all" ; 6, 20 : "0 Timothy, 
keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and 
vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so called." 

Concerning temptation as a means by which the Holy Spirit 
creates or enhances the theological habitude, Luther writes: "In 
the third place, there is tentatio, that is, trial. That is the true 
touchstone, which teaches you not only to know and understand, 
but also to experience, how true, sincere, sweet, lovely, powerful, 
comforting, the Word of God is, so that it is the wisdom above all 
wisdom. Thus you see how David, in the psalm just mentioned, 
complains about all manner of enemies, wicked princes and tyrants, 
false prophets and factions, which he must endure because he always 
meditates, that is, deals with God's Word in every possible way, 
as stated. For as soon as the Word of God bears fruit through you, 
the devil will trouble you, make you a real teacher, and teach you 
through tribulation to seek and to love the Word of God. For 
I myself — if I am permitted to voice my humble opinion — must 
thank my papists very much for so buffeting, distressing, and terri- 
fying me by the devil's fury that they made me a fairly good 
theologian, which otherwise I should never have become." 

As Luther here says, his whole theology grew out of his trials 
and troubles, which forced him to seek strength and comfort in 
Holy Scripture. And Luther experienced trials both from within 
and from without. First he was troubled by tentationes within his 



heart. Before he became a Christian theologian, he was plagued 
with the agony of a troubled conscience, produced by his insistence 
on work-righteousness as the means of obtaining pardon. From 
this state of dread and anguish he was at last rescued by the knowl- 
edge and understanding of the blessed Gospel, from which he in- 
deed learned how "true, sincere, sweet, lovely, and powerful the 
Word of God is." Afterwards, when he began to proclaim the 
Gospel of Christ in its purity and truth, trials came to him from 
without. He was stigmatized as a heretic and schismatic, not only 
by the Eomanists, but also by the enthusiasts of his time, so that 
again he was forced "to seek and love the Word"; and thus he 
became so established in, and convinced of, the divine truth that 
he could say : "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise." Trials, or 
tentationeSj therefore, made Luther a "fairly good theologian," 
because they compelled him to anchor his hope only in the Word 
of God. And so every Christian who aspires to become a true 
theologian must seek, study, and cling to, Holy Scripture until he 
regards it as the "wisdom above all wisdom." 

Luther concludes his remarks on his famous axiom with the 
words : "Then [namely, if you follow the rule of David exhibited 
in Ps. 119] you will find how shallow and unworthy will appear to 
you the writings of the Fathers, and you will contemn not only 
the books of the opponents, but also be ever less pleased with your 
own writing and teaching. If you have arrived at this stage, you 
may surely hope that you have just begun to be a real theologian, 
one who is able to teach not only the young and unlearned, but 
also the advanced and well-instructed Christians. For Christ's 
Church includes all manner of Christians — young, old, weak, sick, 
healthy, strong, aggressive, indolent, simple, wise, etc. But if you 
consider yourself learned and imagine that you have attained the 
goal and feel proud of your booklets, teaching and writing, as 
though you had done marvelously and preached wondrously, and 
if you are much pleased because people praise you before others and 
you must be praised or otherwise you are disappointed and feel 
like giving up, — if you are minded like that, my friend, just grab 
yourself by the ears, and if you grab rightly, you will find a fine 
pair of big, long, rough donkey ears. Then go to a little more 
expense and adorn yourself with golden bells, so that, wherever 
you go, people can hear you, admiringly point at you with their 
fingers, and say, 'Lo and behold, there is that wonderful man who 
can write such excellent books and preach so remarkably !' Then 



certainly you will be blessed, yes, more than blessed, in the kingdom 
of heaven — indeed, in that kingdom in which the fire of hell has 
been prepared for the devil and his angels! In fine, let us seek 
honor and be haughty wherever we may. In this Book, God's glory 
alone is set forth, and it says: 'Deus superbis resistit, humilibus 
autem dot gratiam. . . . Cui est gloria in secula seculorum. 
Amen/ " 

Luther's emphasis upon true humility as a requisite of a true 
theologian is certainly in place, since the Holy Spirit with His 
sanctifying and sustaining gifts is present only in a contrite, 
humble heart. To the humble alone God gives the grace of true 




(De Scriptura Sacra.) 



The Christian Church is much older than Holy Scripture, 
that is, it existed long before God gave His written Word to men ; 
for until the time of Moses God called and preserved His Church 
by oral teaching (viva voce). The Christian Church began imme- 
diately after the Fall, when God proclaimed to fallen mankind 
salvation through faith in the Seed of the Woman, who was to 
destroy the works of the devil; and Adam and Eve penitently 
believed the Protevangelium (Gen. 3, 15). This method of orally 
promulgating His Word was retained by God until the time when 
He called Israel out of Egypt and made it His chosen people, or 
His Church, Gen. 4, 26; 13, 4; 20, 4; Acts 10, 43; Ex. 17, 14; 
24,4.7; etc. 

However, after God had commanded His prophets to put His 
Word in writing, His Church was rigidly bound to the written 
Word, and it was not permitted either to add to the Scriptures or 
to take anything away from them, Deut. 4, 2 ; 12, 32 ; Josh. 1, 7 ; 
.23, 6. For the Church of the Old Testament the prophetic Scrip- 
tures constituted a fixed canon, to which only God Himself could 
make additions, John 5, 39 ; Luke 16, 29. In the time of the New 
Testament, God added to the existing and acknowledged Scrip- 
tures of the prophets the holy writings of the apostles, to form, 
together with the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the inerrant 
foundation upon which His Church is built, Eph. 2, 20; 1 Pet. 
1, 10—12. 

With the revelations of Christ and His holy apostles the Scrip- 
tural canon is now complete, and the Christian Church is to look 
for no more revelations from God, John 17, 20; Eph. 2, 20; Heb. 
1, 1 — 3. Luther writes very aptly: "That we may do: If we, too, 
are holy and have the Holy Spirit, we may boast of being cate- 
chumens and pupils of the prophets, inasmuch as we repeat and 
preach what we have heard and learned from the prophets and 
apostles and are sure that the prophets have taught it. In the Old 
Testament those are called 'the children of the prophets' who did 
not teach anything of their own or anything new, as did the 
prophets, but taught what they had received from the prophets." 
(St.L., Ill, 1890.) 



If the question is asked where the New Testament Church may 
unerringly find the word of the apostles, they themselves point us 
to their holy writings and tell us that what they proclaimed orally 
is the same as that which they recorded in their sacred Scriptures, 
1 John 1,3.4: 2 Thess. 2, 15. Though the apostles did not put 
into writing everything that they taught orally, nevertheless every- 
thing that is required for salvation is found in abundance in their 
writings, since they record with great diligence God's counsel of 
salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, John 21,25; Phil. 3, 1. 
In addition, the holy apostles insisted upon their written word as 
the only source and norm of faith against all errorists of their time, 
demanding that all who regarded themselves as prophets must fol- 
low the Lord's commands as these are laid down in their writings, 
1 Cor. 14, 37. 38; 2 Thess. 2, 2. St. Paul especially put his own 
signature to his epistles in order that these might be distinguished 
from spurious apostolic epistles, 2 Thess. 3, 17. Both the prophets 
and the apostles thus attest that Holy Scripture, or the written 
Word of God, is the only source and norm of faith and life, or the 
true principium cognoscendi (Schriftprinzip). 

This fundamental truth has been denied in various ways. The 
principle of Scripture, or the fact that Holy Scripture is the only 
source and norm of faith, has been abrogated by the substitution of 
something else for God's Word. 

a. Human reason has been substituted for Scripture. By 
human reason we mean everything that man knows of God and 
divine things outside of Holy Scripture, or simply man's natural 
knowledge of God. This natural knowledge of God, however, can- 
not be the source of man's faith, since it is limited to the Law and 
its demands, Rom. 1, 20. 21. 32 ; 2, 15, and does not include the 
precious Gospel of Christ, or the message of reconciliation through 
the vicarious satisfaction of the incarnate Son of God, by which 
alone sinners can be saved, 1 Cor. 2, 6 ff. ; Eom. 1, 16. Any one 
who makes human reason the norm of faith commits the logical 
fallacy of fierdftaois elg &XXo ySvog and excludes himself from the 
Christian Church, since he substitutes for divine truth his own 
fallible wisdom, which rejects God's free salvation offered in the 
Gospel as foolishness, 1 Cor. 1, 21 — 25. The Christian Church 
therefore repudiates all forms of rationalism, Unitarianism, and 
Modernism, which regard human reason, or human science, as the 
source of faith, and condemns its proponents as being outside the 
pale of the Church (extra ecclesiam). 



By human reason, however, we denote also the means by which 
man perceives and thinks. This is the so-called ministerial use of 
reason ( usvs rationis ministerialist organicus ) and is quite distinct 
from its magisterial use (usus rationis magisterialis). Reason in 
this sense has a legitimate and necessary place in theology, since 
the Holy Spirit implants and preserves saving faith through the 
Word of God which is received into the human mind, Rom. 10, 
14. 17 ; John 5, 39 ; Matt. 24, 15 ; Luke 2, 19. To the ministerial 
use of reason belongs also the study of the languages in which Holy 
Scripture was originally written, and in particular that of logic 
and grammar, because the Holy Spirit, in giving to man God's 
Word, was pleased to accommodate Himself to the laws of human 
thought and speech. Luther makes the remark that God is incar- 
nate in Holy Scripture (Scriptura Sacra est Deus incarnatus). 
In the same sense our Lutheran dogmaticians say that "theology 
must be grammatical" (theologia debet esse grammatica), which 
means that, if the theologian desires to understand Scripture, he 
must observe the fixed laws by which human speech and expression 
is governed. Luther urged this truth so vigorously as to maintain 
that any one who errs in grammar cannot but err also in his 

By distinguishing between the ministerial and the magisterial 
use of reason, our Lutheran dogmaticians also decided the question 
whether sacred theology and human reason, or Christian truth and! 
human philosophy, really contradict each other. Their contention 
was that, since truth is always the same, such a contradiction could 
occur only if perverted reason presumed to be an arbiter in matters 
lying beyond its specific domain. With regard to the articles of 
faith they averred that these are not contrary to reason, but only 
above reason and that, if seemingly they did contradict reason, 
they were contrary only to corrupt reason or to the perversion of 
reason in the interest of falsehood and enmity against God. 

However, the Christian theologian must expect the warfare 
between theology and perverted reason, or science falsely so called, 
to continue because ever since the Fall man by nature has been 
at enmity with God, Eom. 8, 7, and regards the very essence of the 
Christian religion, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as foolishness, 
1 Cor. 2, 14. In consequence of his innate hatred against God and 
divine things, which always reveals itself in proud and arrogant 
rejection of His Word, natural man will never cease to oppose 
divine truth on the ground of his own supposed knowledge, so that 
unbelieving philosophers and atheistic scientists will always charge 



Scripture with teaching falsehood (atheistic evolution). Gerhard 
is quite right when he says (II, 371) : "We must distinguish 
between reason before and after the Fall. The former, as such, 
was never opposed to divine revelation; the latter has frequently 
been thus opposed through the influence of corruption." 

b. The enlightened reason, which is also known as "Christian 
consciousness," "Christian experience," "Christian conviction," 
"Christian assurance," etc., has been substituted for the Word 
of God. It is true, every believer in Christ has an enlightened 
mind, but as far as he is a Christian, he never insists upon his 
enlightened reason as a source or norm of faith, since he owes his 
illumination entirely to the living power of the Word of God, 
Rom. 1, 16; and he knows that his reason will at once sink back 
into spiritual ignorance as soon as he departs from Christ's en- 
lightening Gospel. Hence all who set up the enlightened mind 
of the Christian as a principium cognoscendi apart from Scripture 
deceive themselves, since their very desire to enthrone their en- 
lightened reason as a judge of faith proceeds from their unenlight- 
ened reason, or their proud carnal mind, 1 Tim. 6, 3 — 5. Reason, 
inasmuch as it is illuminated by the Holy Ghost through the Word, 
never presumes to judge Scripture, but faithfully adheres to God's 
Word in all things and glories in its sacred teachings, John 8, 
31. 32 ; 2 Cor. 10, 4. 5; 1 Cor. 1, 18. 24. Luther writes very cor- 
rectly: "The Holy Spirit never operates without or before the 
Word, but He comes with and through the Word and never goes 
beyond the Word." (St.L., XI, 1073.) 

c. The general scope of Scripture ("das Schriftganze,"* "the 
whole of Scripture"). The advocates of this theory claim that 
the Christian articles of faith must not be drawn from Scripture- 
passages treating of the individual doctrines (sedes doctrinae, dicta 
probantia), but from the general scope or tenor of the Bible, which 
Schleiermacher, who first propounded this false view, called "das 
Schriftganze/' or the "whole of Scripture." Modern rationalizing 
theologians have readily assented to Schleiermacher's proposition; 
but we must reject it as utterly unadoptable, since the whole of 
a thing necessarily involves all its component parts, and as abso- 
lutely unscriptural, since Christ and His apostles invariably refuted 
error by referring to distinct Scripture-passages, Matt. 4, 4. 7. 10 ; 
Eom. 1, 17 ; 1 Cor. 10, 7—10 ; Gal. 4, 22 f. Schleiermacher's con- 
tention that "it is a most precarious procedure to quote Scripture- 
passages in a dogmatic treatise and, besides, in itself quite inad- 



equate" (Glaubenslehre, I, § 30) was only a pretext to justify 
his unscriptural method of deriving the theological truths from his 
reason, or the "pious self-consciousness." Scripture declares of 
every theologian who repudiates the sacred doctrines set forth in 
God's Word: "If any man consent not to wholesome words, even 
the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is proud, knowing nothing, 
but doting about questions and strifes of words," 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4. 

d. The Church, in particular the decisions of church councils, 
synods, Popes, etc., is substituted for Scripture by many. Accord- 
ing to Holy Scripture, however, the Christian Church has no 
authority whatever to teach any doctrine besides and beyond the 
Word of its divine Master Jesus Christ, laid down in the writings 
of His prophets and apostles, Matt. 23, 8. 10 ; 28, 20 ; John 17, 20 ; 
Eph. 2, 20; 1 Pet. 1, 10 — 12. Hence the Church cannot be re- 
garded as a judge of faith, but according to the will of its Lord 
it is to function till the end of time merely as a herald, or mes- 
senger, of God's Word, John 8, 31. 32. Whenever a Church puts 
forth doctrines of its own fabrication, it disowns the principle of 
Scripture and falls under the condemnation of Christ: "In vain 
they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of 
men," Matt. 15, 9. The "consensus of the Church" (consensus 
ecclesiae) is not what Christian teachers have opined on this or 
that point of doctrine, but what they have declared as divine truth 
on the basis of Scripture, that is to say, in agreement with the 
witness of the holy prophets and apostles. According to Holy 
Scripture all those who reject the teachings of God's Word are 
antichrists, 1 John 2, 22, among whom the most perverse is the 
great Antichrist, "who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that 
is called God or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the 
temple of God, showing himself that he is God," 2 Thess. 2, 3. 4. 
The declaration of papal infallibility (1870) must be regarded as 
intolerable blasphemy and antichristian rebellion against God. In 
vain do papistic theologians quote Matt. 16, 18 as a proof that the 
Church, in particular the Pope, cannot err; for Christ promises 
to His Church His sustaining presence only under the condition 
that it faithfully teaches "unto the end of the world" "all things 
whatsoever I have commanded you," Matt. 28, 20. As long as the 
Church adheres to the Word of Christ, it cannot err; but as soon 
as it departs from the divine Word, it cannot but err, since in 
that case it has no other source to draw from than proud, per- 
verted reason. 



With respect to the witness of the Christian Church two ex- 
tremes must be avoided; on the one hand, it must not be under- 
estimated or rejected as worthless; on the other hand, it must 
not be overestimated, as if the testimony of the Church were in 
itself a principium cognoscendi. The Formula of Concord states 
the matter very correctly: "We believe, teach, and confess that 
the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together 
with all teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic 
and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament 
alone. . . . Other writings, however, of ancient or modern teachers, 
whatever name they bear, must not be regarded as equal to the 
Holy Scriptures, but all of them together be subjected to them 
and should not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses, 
in what manner after the time of the apostles and at what places 
this [pure] doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved.'* 
(Epitome, Triglot, p. 777. Cf. the distinction between norma 
normans, sc., Scripture, and the norma normata, sc., the Confes- 
sions of the Church.) With regard to the so-called "consensus of 
the fathers" (consensus patrum, i. e., the agreement of the Church 
Fathers) Quenstedt shows that this does not exist; for many writ- 
ings of the teachers of the ancient Church have been lost, and "the 
consensus of a few fathers cannot be accepted as the consensus of 
the whole Church." (Cf. the definition of the consensus patrum by 
Vincentius of Lerinum : "Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab om- 
nibus creditum est," which is practically worthless.) 

e. Private revelations (revelationes immediatae, revelationes 
novae). Private revelations are supposedly new doctrines which, 
God gives to individuals to explain, correct, and supplement Holy 
Scripture. Fanatics, asserting that they had received private reve- 
lations, arose even in the time of the apostles, 1 Cor. 14, 37; 
2 Thess. 2, 2 ; and in their wake there followed in the second and 
fourth centuries the Montanists and Donatists. At the time of Lu- 
ther's Reformation, the "heavenly prophets," the Anabaptists and 
Schwenkfeldians, rejected the "external Word" and in its place 
stressed the "inner word," stigmatizing obedience to Scripture as 
"letter service" (Buchstabendienst) ; while in modern times the 
Christian Church must cope with the enthusiasm of such religious 
organizations as the Quakers, Swedenborgians, Irvingites, and 
others. In addition to these visionaries it must oppose also those 
who separate the operation of the Holy Ghost from the Word of 
Scripture and rely on private revelations as the norm of their 
faith, e. g. : — 



a. The Romanists, who ascribe to their Popes the charisma of 
infallible teaching outside and beyond Scripture. With regard to 
the Papacy, Luther writes in the Smalcald Articles: "The Papacy 
also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts 
that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he 
decides and commands with [in] his Church is spirit and right, 
even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the 6poken 
Word." (Part III, Art. VIII, 4.) 

b. The Calvinists, who teach that the saving work of the Holy 
Spirit occurs immediately, i. e., outside and apart from the Word. 
(Hodge: "Efficacious grace acts immediately .") 

c. All modern rationalistic theologians, who deny that Holy 
Scripture is the inerrant Word of God and therefore propose to 
draw the Christian doctrine from their "pious self -consciousness," 
their "Christian experience," and the like, while they stigmatize 
loyalty to Scripture as "letter theology," "intellectualism," "Bib- 
licism," etc. The result of enthusiasm in religion is always the 
same, no matter whether it is practised by papists, Calvinists, or 
modern rationalists, as Luther well points out in the Smalcald 
Articles, in which he writes: "Enthusiasm adheres in Adam and 
his children from the beginning (from the first fall) to the end 
of the world, (its poison) having been implanted and infused into 
them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power (life), and 
strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Ma- 
homet." (Part III, Art. VIII, 9.) Luther says with regard to the 
pious pretenses of the enthusiasts : "They say these things only in 
order that they may lead us away from the Bible and make them- 
selves masters over us, so that we should believe their dream ser- 
mons." (St.L., V, 334 f.) 

The question of whether God deigns to reveal new doctrines 
outside, and apart from, the Bible is definitely decided in His 
Word, which binds all Christian believers to Holy Scripture as the 
sole source and norm of faith, John 17, 20; Eph. 2, 20. In Christ 
Jesus, the Light and Savior of the world, all divine revelations 
culminate, the prophets in the Old Testament pointing forward to 
His coming and the apostles witnessing to His incarnation, Passion, 
resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God. Since 
Christ's prophetic and sacerdotal ministry has been accomplished 
(John 1, 18), men require no further revelations for their salvation 
because every doctrine needed for both faith and life of the Chris- 
tian is amply supplied in the writings of the prophets and apostles, 



Eom. 16, 17; 1 Tim. 6, 3ff.; Luke 16, 29— 31. Lutheran dogma- 
ticians have aptly remarked with reference to the "new revelations" 
of the enthusiasts: "Either they contain what Scripture already 
teaches, and in that case they are superfluous; or they propound 
teachings contrary to the Bible, and in that case they are injurious 
and must be rejected." 

f. Historical investigation. Modernists, rejecting the histor- 
ical character of the New Testament, assert that they must go 
beyond Scripture to ascertain who the "historical Christ" really was 
and what He actually taught. To accomplish this purpose, they 
subject the records of the evangelists to a critical scrutiny in the 
light of comparative religion. The "historical Christ" whom they 
obtain by this procedure is divested of all supernatural properties 
and His doctrine of all supernatural elements. They make of Him 
a mere human teacher, whose doctrines are little more than an 
ethical code. In opposition to this preposterous method the true 
followers of Christ declare that the "historical revelation of the 
way of salvation is found only in the Bible" and that, as Luther 
correctly asserts, "we know nothing of Christ apart from and with- 
out His Word and much less of His teaching ; for any 'Christ* who 
proposes an opinion outside the Word of Christ is the abominable 
devil, who applies to himself the holy name of Christ in order that 
he may thus sell to us his infernal venom." (St. L., XVII, 2015.) 
The truth of this statement is proved by the actual results of the 
modern historico-critical school of theology; for while it violently 
rejects all the sacred truths set forth in the Bible, it is unable to 
construct a satisfactory system of doctrines which may comfort the 
sinner in his spiritual distress. Its influences have proved only 
destructive, never edifying or helpful. 

The reason for this is clear. After all, there can be only two 
sources of doctrine: Scripture and human reason. Any one who 
repudiates Holy Scripture as the true principium cognoscendi is 
obliged to draw his doctrine from his perverted mind or carnal 
heart, which at best retains only an imperfect knowledge of the 
divine Law originally inscribed in the human consciousness, so that 
natural man, knowing nothing at all of the true God and His 
glorious salvation through faith in Christ, is compelled to hold^the 
opinio leg is, or salvation by good works, to be the supreme religious 
precept. Ultimately every rejection of God's Word terminates in 
agnosticism or atheism. He who is without the divine Word is 
eo ipso also without God and without hope, Eph. 2, 12. 





In contradistinction to all other books in the world Holy Scrip- 
ture is the Word of God. As the writings of Plato are the word 
of Plato and those of Cicero are the word of Cicero, just so the 
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which the prophets 
and apostles wrote by divine inspiration, are throughout, from be- 
ginning to end, the words of God Himself. This is not a "dog- 
matic construction," as rationalistic theologians have contended, 
but it is God's own testimony, given in Scripture. Hence Chris- 
tian believers affirm not merely that the Bible contains God's Word, 
but that it is God's Word, that is to say, "Holy Scripture and the 
Word of God are interchangeable terms." 

Holy Scripture is therefore a unique book; for it is neither 
a human nor a divine-human record of "revealed salvation facts," 
but God's own inspired and inerrant Word. The books of Chris- 
tian authors contain God's Word as far as these pious writers have 
drawn from the Bible what they have written. But Scripture does 
not belong to this class of writings, but is in a class by itself. That 
was Luther's attitude toward the Holy Bible, and it is that of every 
true Christian believer, who readily subscribes to what Luther 
writes on this point : "You must deal with Scripture in such a way 
that you think just as God Himself has spoken." (St. L., Ill, 21.) 
The same truth Luther affirms when he says : "Holy Scripture did 
not grow upon the earth." (St. L., VII, 2095.) 

Even sincere Christians at times forget this paramount truth 
because in Holy Scripture God speaks to us not only in simple, 
every-day terms, but also of very ordinary matters, things pertain- 
ing to the affairs of our earthly life. As a matter of fact, as Christ 
Himself during His sojourn on earth "was made in the likeness of 
man and found in fashion as a man," Phil. 2, 7. 8, so that some 
believed Him to be "John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremias, or one of 
the prophets," Matt. 16, 14, so also God's Word is set forth in Holy 
Scripture in the common speech of men and accommodated to our 
common earthly needs. Luther warns all believers: "I beg and 
warn most faithfully every pious Christian not to be offended at 
the simple speech and narrative which he will frequently meet 
with ; let him not doubt, no matter how simple it may appear, that 
these are nothing but words, works, judgments, and narratives of 
the divine majesty, omnipotence, and wisdom. For this is the 
Scripture, which makes fools of all the wise and prudent and is 
open alone to the lowly and simple, as Christ Himself says in 
Matt. 11, 25. Therefore give up your pride and haughty spirit and 



regard Scripture as the greatest and most precious sanctuary and 
the richest mine, which can never be fully exhausted, in order that 
you may find the divine wisdom, which God here presents so plainly 
and simply that He may quench our pride." (St. L., XIV, 3f.) 
In spite of its simplicity we therefore identify Holy Scripture with 
God's Word and declare that it is God's Word from beginning 
to end and in every part. In this we follow God's own directions 
given in Holy Scripture ; for as we study that holy Book, we find : 
a. That in the New Testament the Scriptures of the Old Testa- 
ment are directly and absolutely quoted as God's Word. We thus 
read, Matt. 1, 22. 23 : "All this was done that it might be fulfilled 
which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet [Is. 7,14], saying, 
Behold, a virgin shall be with child," etc. In Matt. 2, 15 we read: 
"That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the 
prophet [Hos. 11, 1], saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son." 
In Acts 4, 25. 26 the words of Ps. 2, 1. 2 are quoted as having been 
"spoken of God by the mouth of His servant David." Acts 28, 25 f. 
quotes the words in Is. 6, 9. 10 as words "which the Holy Ghost 
spake by Esaias the prophet." In Heb. 3, 7ff. we find a quotation 
from Ps. 95, 7 f with the express remark, "as the Holy Ghost 
saith" Finally, in Kom. 3, 2 the Holy Scriptures, which were en- 
trusted to the Church of God of the Old Testament, are directly 
called "the words of God" (rd Xoyia rov deov). In fact, according 
to the unmistakable testimony of Christ the Old Testament Scrip- 
tures are so absolutely the Word of God that He says of them: 
"The Scripture cannot be broken," John 10, 35. The reference in 
this instance, sc., to Ps. 82, 6, is of great importance; for there 
magistrates are called "gods" &eoi). This appellation, ac- 

cording to our Savior, was not a mistake and could not be a mistake 
because "the Scripture cannot be broken." From this passage 
therefore as well as from many others we learn that the Bible is 
verbally inspired, so that every word in Scripture is God's own in- 
fallible Word. 

The series of passages in which the Old Testament Scriptures 
are called "God's Word" is supported by another group of texts, 
in which the Scriptures are presented as so absolutely divine that 
all things foretold in them must be literally fulfilled, indeed, that 
all events that occur in this world are directed by God's will, as 
revealed in Scripture. This takes Holy Scripture out of the class 
of human writings and places it in a class by itself, as God's own 
holy Book. Thus in John 17, 12 our Savior speaks of the apostasy 
of Judas and the loss of his soul and adds that this came about 



"that the Scripture might be fulfilled." Christ's own betrayal and 
capture in Gethsemane had to take place in order that "the Scrip- 
ture might be fulfilled," Matt. 26, 54. Similarly we read in Luke 
24, 44 ff. that Christ had to suffer, die, and rise again "because all 
things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses 
and in the Prophets and in the Psalms [viz., in the entire Old 
Testament] concerning Me." Olshausen is right in arguing that 
in the New Testament the quotations from the Old Testament are 
referred to not as proofs from human writings, but as incontro- 
vertible testimonies of their being divine writings. But the fact 
that the Old Testament Scriptures are God's own Word was 
stated by Christ Himself when He gave the command: "Search 
the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they 
aTe they which testify of Me," John 5, 39. 

b. The fact that the Scriptures of the New Testament occupy 
the same canonical position as those of the Old Testament and are 
therefore in the same manner and to the same degree the Word of 
God is proved by a number of clear passages. In 1 Pet. 1, 10 — 12, 
the apostle first establishes the fact that the prophets of the Old 
Testament testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the 
glory that should follow through "the Spirit of Christ which was 
in them," but then adds: "Which [the sufferings of Christ and 
His glory] are now reported unto you by them that have preached 
the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost (Iv nvevjuaTi dyico, by the 
Holy Ghost) sent down from heaven." According to this passage 
the apostles in the New Testament proclaimed the Gospel by the 
same Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets of the Old Testa- 
ment, so that their writings are the Word of God in the same sense 
and to the same degree as were those of the prophets. If the objec- 
tion is raised that this passage refers to the oral word of the 
apostles, we may quote passages in which the apostles place their 
written word on the same level with their spoken word and demand 
for it the same reverence and obedience, 1 John 1,3.4; 2 Thess. 
2, 15; 1 Cor. 14, 37; 2 Cor. 13, 3. As in 1 Pet. 1, 10—12, so also 
in Eph. 2, 20 the word of the apostles in the New Testament is ac- 
corded the same divine dignity and authority as the word of the 
prophets in the Old Testament; for both are declared to be the 
foundation upon which the Church is built. In addition to this, 
Christ states expressly that Christians would believe in Him and 
hence obtain salvation "through their [the apostles'] word," John 
17, 20, which proves that their word is God's own Word; for this 
alone is able to save souls, Rom. 1, 16; Jas. 1, 21. 




Holy Scripture does not merely attest the fact that it is God's 
Word : it also explains the peculiar manner in which God gave His 
Word to men. It clearly teaches that the Word of God was in- 
spired, or inbreathed into certain holy men, whom God called to 
be the official writers of His holy Book, so that all Scripture is given 
by inspiration of God" {naaa yQatprj ftednvEvoxog), 2 Tim. 3, 16. 
Scripture emphatically declares with regard to the sacred writers 
of God's Book: "The prophecy came not in old time by the will 
of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved (qpegdjuevoi) 
by the Holy Ghost," 2 Pet. 1, 21. Since the holy men of God spake 
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, they evidently wrote not 
their own words, but those which God Himself put into their 
minds. This truth is unmistakably taught by St. Paul; for he 
writes : "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's 
wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing 
spiritual things with spiritual," 1 Cor. 2, 13. The same apostle 
also declares that Christ was speaking in him, 2 Cor. 13, 3 ; and 
of his writings he states that they are "the commandments of the 
Lord," 1 Cor. 14, 37. The writings of the prophets and apostles 
are therefore the Word of God ; they were divinely inspired to write 
the books embodied in our Bible. 

In the Scripture-passages which set forth the doctrine of 
inspiration the following truths are distinctly expressed : — 

a. The inspiration was not simply "inspiration of thoughts'* 
(suggestio realis) nor "inspiration of persons" (inspiratio per- 
sonalis), but verbal inspiration (suggestio verbalis, Verbalinspira- 
tion), t. e., an inspiration by which the Holy Ghost inbreathed the 
very words which the holy penmen were to write. In 2 Tim. 3, 16 
Scripture is said to be "God-breathed" (&e6tivevoxo<;), which means 
that it owes its origin to God notwithstanding the fact that it was 
written by men. In 2 Pet. 1, 21 the apostle distincly declares that 
the holy men, borne along (cpEQdfievoi) by the Holy Ghost, spoke, 
t. e., brought forth words (IXaXtjoav). Similarly St. Paul says in 
1 Cor. 2, 13: "Which things we speak in words taught by the 
Spirit" (XaXovjuev dtdaxxoig [koyoig] nrey/uatoc). In all these 
passages the verbal inspiration of the Bible is clearly affirmed ; for 
since words are the necessary means for conveying thoughts, it lies 
in the very nature of inspiration that the very words were supplied 
to the holy writers. 

All those who deny the verbal inspiration of the Bible and 



substitute for it "personal inspiration" or "thought inspiration" 
deny the Scriptural doctrine of inspiration altogether and are com- 
pelled to teach in its place a mere "illumination," which is common 
to all believers. Consequently they annul the distinction which 
Scripture itself makes between the norma normans of the prophetic 
and apostolic writings and the norma normata of the uninspired 
books of illuminated dogmaticians and other teachers of the 
Church. In other words, with the denial of the verbal inspiration 
the Bible becomes a human book, which has no greater authority 
than any other Christian book. But just this very thing the Bible 
stamps as false by proclaiming itself to be the divine source and 
norm of faith, to which all believers owe their salvation, Eph. 2, 20 ; 
John 17, 20; Luke 16, 29; John 8, 31. 32. For this reason we 
reject the statement of Hastings : "Inspiration applies to men, not 
to written words" (Encycl. of Rel. and Eth., II, 589) and profess 
with E. W. Hiley : "This miraculous operation of the Holy Ohost 
[divine inspiration] had not the writers themselves for its object, — 
these were only His instruments and were soon to pass away; — its 
objects were the holy books themselves/' (The Inspiration of 
Scripture, 1885, p. 50.) Baler's definition of inspiration is in full 
agreement with what Scripture itself teaches on the subject: 
"Divine inspiration was that agency by which God supernaturally 
communicated to the intellect of those who wrote not only the 
correct conception of all that was to be written, but also the con- 
ception of the words themselves and of everything by which they 
were to be expressed and by which He also instigated their will to 
the act of writing." (Doctr. Theol., p. 39.) 

b. The inspiration was not a mere divine assistance or direc- 
tion (assistentia, directio, gubernatio divina), but the actual im- 
partation of all the words (suggestio verborum) of which Holy 
Scripture consists. Just as on Pentecost the Holy Spirit graciously 
"gave utterance" to the apostles, Acts 2, 4, so He "gave them utter- 
ance" when He impelled them to write down God's Word and per- 
petuate it in Holy Scripture. This truth is clearly expressed in 
the term "God-breathed" (&z6tivevoto<;), which declares that Scrip- 
ture has not merely been directed by God, but inspired by Him. 
Of course, the Holy Ghost also guided, directed, and governed the 
holy prophets and apostles, so that they actually wrote down the 
words which He suggested to them ; but it is contrary to Scripture 
to identify this divine assistance with the divine act of inspiration. 
Through mere divine guidance or preservation from error Scrip- 
ture would have become an errorless human book, but mere divine 



guidance could not have made it an inerrant Book of God, or God's 
own Word. Such it became only through divine inspiration, or the 
divine suggestio verb ovum. 

Together with the divine words also their concepts were sug- 
gested to the holy writers (suggestio realis), so that on their part 
the act of writing was not merely a mechanical effort, but rather 
a "conscious, volitional, and intelligent act." The Bible written 
by them was at the same time God's Boole (causa principalis) and 
their own book (causae instrumentales). Gerhard correctly says 
(11,26) : "The instrumental causes of Holy Scripture were holy 
men of God, 2 Pet. 1, 21 ; that is, men peculiarly and immediately 
elected and called by God for the purpose of committing to writing 
the divine revelations. Such were the prophets of the Old Testa- 
ment and the evangelists and apostles of the New Testament, whom 
we therefore properly call the amanuenses of God, the hand of 
Christ, and the scribes, or notaries, of the Holy Spirit, since they 
neither spoke nor wrote by their own will, but, borne along by the 
Holy Spirit (yegoftevoi vnb rov Ttvevjuarog dyiov), were acted upon, 
led, moved, inspired, and governed by the Holy Ghost. They wrote 
not as men, but as 'men of God/ that is, as servants of God and 
peculiar organs of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, when a canonical 
book is called a 'book of Moses/ the Tsalms of David/ an 'epistle 
of Paul/ etc., this is merely a reference to the agent and not to the 
principal cause." Concerning the efficient, or principal, cause of 
Scripture, Quenstedt says (I, 55) : "The efficient, or principal, 
cause of Scripture is the Triune God, 2 Tim. 3, 16 (the Father/ 
Heb. 1, If.; the Son, John 1, 18; the Holy Ghost, 2 Sam. 23, 2; 
1 Pet. 1, 11; 2 Pet. 1, 21) : a) by an original decree; b) by sub- 
sequent inspiration, or by ordering that holy men of God should 
write, and by inspiring what was to be written." {Doctr. Theol., 
P- 42.) 

With regard to the manner in which the holy penmen wrote by 
divine inspiration, Quenstedt writes (I, 55) : "God therefore alone, 
if we wish to speak accurately, is to be called the Author of the 
Sacred Scriptures; the prophets and apostles cannot be called the 
authors except by a kind of catachresis" Again (I, 52) : "Not as 
though these divine amanuenses wrote ignorantly and unwillingly, 
beyond the reach of, and contrary to, their own will; for they 
wrote cheerfully, willingly, and intelligently. They are said to be 
(pego/uevot, driven, moved, urged on, by the Holy Ghost, not as 
though they were in a state of unconsciousness, as the enthusiasts 



pretended to be, or in a certain ivftovoiaojuos, as the heathen 
claimed with regard to their soothsayers ; nor, again, ... as though 
the prophets themselves did not understand their own prophecies or 
the things which they wrote, . . . but [they are properly called 
amanuenses] because they wrote nothing of their own accord, but 
everything at the dictation of the Holy Ghost." (Doctr. Theol., 
p. 43.) 

c. Inspiration extends not merely to a part of Scripture, for 
example, to its important doctrines, or such matters as before were 
unknown to the holy writers, but the entire Bible (plenary inspira- 
tion). This fact is proved by the passage "All Scripture is given 
by inspiration of God," 2 Tim. 3, 16. From this statement we 
derive the axiom : "Whatever is a part of Holy Scripture is given 
by divine inspiration." Hence the inspiration includes the whole 
of Scripture, no matter whether it was specially revealed to the 
holy writers or whether they knew it before or whether it was ascer- 
tained through study and research. For this reason the historical, 
geographical, archeological, and scientific matters contained in 
Scripture are as truly inspired as are its foremost doctrines. Those 
who deny this and assume degrees of inspiration destroy the very 
concept of inspiration. 

Hollaz thus writes on this point : "There are contained in 
Scripture historical, chronological, genealogical, astronomical, 
scientific, and political matters, which, although the knowledge of 
them is not actually necessary to salvation, are nevertheless divinely 
revealed, because an acquaintance with them assists not a little in 
the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and in illustrating their 
doctrines and moral precepts. If only the mysteries of the faith 
which are contained in the Holy Scriptures depend on divine inspi- 
ration and all the rest, which may be known by the light of nature, 
depends merely on divine direction, then not all of Scripture is 
inspired. But Paul declares that the whole of Scripture is divinely 
inspired. Therefore not only the mysteries of the faith, but also 
the remaining truths revealed in Scripture, which may be known 
also from the light of nature, are divinely suggested and inspired." 
(Doctr. Theol, p. 46.) 

In the Lutheran Church, George Calixtus (f 1656) taught 
that only the chief articles of faith were inspired, while the less 
important matters or those which were known to the holy writers 
before they were inspired to write were put down by mere divine 
direction or guidance so as to preserve them from error. But this 
doctrine was rejected by the Lutheran dogmaticians as militating 



against the theopneusty of the whole of Scripture (ndoa yQaq?rj). 
The error of Calixtus has been championed also by Romanistic, 
Calvinistic, and modern rationalistic Lutheran dogmaticians. 

d. Since Holy Scripture is the divinely inspired Word of God, 
its perfect inerrancy in every part and every statement is a priori 
certain because of the infallibility of its divine Author. However, 
Christ directly affirms the absolute inerrancy of Scripture when He 
declares: "Scripture cannot be broken," John 10, 35. His refer- 
ence in this instance was to a single word (&eoi f D^K, Ps. 82,6), 
and if Scripture cannot be broken in the case of a single term, 
then the whole of it must be absolutely true. Similarly the apostles 
frequently refer to single words in the Old Testament as divinely 
inspired and as able to prove truths which they wished to impress 
upon their readers. Cf. Gal. 3, 16 with Gen. 17, 7 : "He saith not, 
And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which 
is Christ"; also Matt. 22, 43. 44 with Ps. 110, 1 : "The Lord said 
unto my Lord"; also John 10, 35 with Ps. 82, 6. Such references 
prove that not only the very words (suggestio verbalis), but even 
the very forms in which they occur (suggestio literalis) have been 
inspired. In accord with this is God's prohibition not to add to His 
Word nor to take away from it even the least particle, Deut. 4, 2 ; 
12, 32; Prov. 30, 5. 6; Eev. 22, 18. 19, as also Christ's warning 
that "whosoever shall break one of these least commandments shall 
be called the least in the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 5, 19, since "it 
is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the Law to 
fail," Luke 16, 17; Matt. 5, 18. Hence, as St. Paul professed: 
"I believe all things which are written in the Law and in the 
Prophets," Acts 24, 14, so also every believing Christian must re- 
gard Holy Scripture in its entirety as divinely inspired and there- 
fore absolutely infallible. Luther writes: "Scripture has never 
erred" (St. L., XV, 1481), and Calov: "No error, even in unim- 
portant matters, no defect of memory, not to say untruth, can have 
any place in all the Scriptures" (Doctr. Theol., p. 49). Similarly 
Hollaz declares: "Divine inspiration, by which the subject-matter 
and the words, those to be spoken as well as those to be written, 
were immediately suggested to the prophets and apostles by the 
Holy Spirit, preserved them free from all error in the preaching 
as well as in the writing of the divine Word." (Ibid.) 

e. The inspiration of Holy Scripture includes lastly also the- 
divine impulse and command to write (impulsus et mandatum 
scribendi). The impulsus scribendi is proved by the fact that the 
holy writers are said to have been moved ((pegofxevot, 2 Pet. 1, 21). 



to write, and for this reason the apostle adds the statement: 
"Prophecy came not by the will of man." In other words, the Holy 
Scriptures were written, not because men, but because God willed 
this. Hollaz is therefore right when he says: "Inspiration de- 
notes the antecedent divine instigation or peculiar impulse of the 
will to engage in writing as well as the immediate illumination by 
which the mind of the sacred writer was fully enlightened." 
(Doctr. Theol., p. 43.) And Quenstedt writes: "All the canon- 
ical books of the Old and the New Testament were written by God, 
who peculiarly incited and impelled the sacred writers to engage 
in the work." (Doctr. Theol., p. 44.) Answering the objection of 
papistic theologians that it is impossible to trace a special divine 
command in every instance, Gerhard declares (II, 30) : "In the 
holy men of God the external command and the internal impulse 
coincide ; for what else is that divine impulse than an internal and 
secret command of precisely the same authority and weight as one 
that is external and manifest ?" (Ibid.) The Roman Catholic doc- 
trine, according to which the inspiration of the Bible is admitted, 
the impulsus scribendi, however, denied, is self -contradictory ; for if 
God gave Scripture by divine inspiration, then He surely also 
moved the holy writers to record His Word. Roman Catholic 
theology denies the mandatum divinum in the interest of exalting 
the unwritten traditions above the written Word of God, just as 
modern rationalistic Protestant theologians deny the impulsus 
scribendi in the interest of elevating their reason (their "Chris- 
tian consciousness" or "Christian experience") above the Bible. 
In both cases the denial is prompted by insubordination over 
against the divine Author of the Bible. 


The relation of the inspiring Holy Spirit to the inspired holy 
writers is clearly described in all those passages of Holy Scripture 
which tell us that the Lord — or the Holy Ghost — spoke "by the 
prophets" (Matt. 1,22; 2, 15) or "by the mouth of the prophets" 
(Acts 1, 16; 4, 25), and this in such a manner that the word of 
the prophets and the apostles was by this very act the Word of God 
(Heb. 3, 7 ; Rom. 3, 2). All these expressions declare that the Holy 
Spirit employed the holy writers as His organs, or instruments, or 
that they were "His mouth" in revealing His holy Word, both 
orally and in writing. To describe this instrumental character of 



the holy writers, our dogmaticians as well as the ancient Church 
Fathers called them "penmen," "amanuenses," "the hand of 
Christ," "scribes and notaries of the Holy Ghost," etc. These ex- 
pressions are perfectly correct as long as the tertium comparationis 
in these figures of speech is strictly kept in view. What these 
terms express is the simple fact that the holy writers were agents 
of God in handing down His Word, either orally or in writing. 
It is self-evident that the holy writers were not mechanical, but 
conscious and intelligent instruments, so that they wrote "cheer- 
fully, willingly, and intelligentl}}' (Quenstedt). Modern ration- 
alistic theologians therefore ought to accept these expressions as 
truly Scriptural and not heap mockery upon those who use them. 
In the final analysis their contempt for these terms is prompted 
by contempt for the Holy Bible itself and its divine doctrine of 

The Scriptural phrase "by the prophets" accounts also for the 
variety of style which is found in Holy Scripture. If the various 
books of the Bible evince different styles of writing, this is because 
the Holy Ghost engaged different men (kings, peasants, fishermen, 
scholars, etc.) to compose His holy Book. Quenstedt remarks on 
this point (1,76) : "There is a great diversity among the sacred 
writers in regard to style and mode of speaking, which evidently 
arose from the fact that the Holy Spirit accommodated Himself 
to the ordinary mode of speaking, leaving to each one his own 
manner ; yet we do not thereby deny that the Holy Spirit suggested 
the particular words to these individuals." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 47 f.) 
Questions such as the following : "Was the Old Testament written 
originally with vowel-points or not?" "May the language of the 
Bible be called classic?" and many others which have been raised 
in connection with the doctrine of inspiration, are purely historical 
and have nothing to do with the doctrine of inspiration. For this 
reason no controversies ought to be waged about them. Let it 
suffice to say that in all external matters the Holy Spirit accom- 
modated Himself to the peculiar conditions that prevailed at the 
time when He gave His Word to the world. 


As early as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, papists, 
Socinians, Arminians, and enthusiasts assumed that Holy Scrip- 
ture contains certain errors. Even Calvin occasionally imputed to 
the evangelists general inaccuracies and incorrect quotations from 
the Old Testament. Within the Lutheran Church, as already 



stated, George Calixtus, in the seventeenth century, departed from 
the Scriptural doctrine of inspiration by teaching that in all matters 
that are not essential or that were known to the holy writers they 
were not inspired, but merely directed or preserved from error. At 
the close of the eighteenth and at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century the prevailing rationalism resulted in the complete sur- 
render of the entire Christian doctrine, including that of the divine 
inspiration of the Bible. Present-day Modernism is a direct ex- 
crescence of this crass rationalism. Modern "positive" or "conser- 
vative" theology, which rejected the bland and stupid rationalism 
of the preceding era, failed to return to the Scriptural doctrine 
of inspiration, and even modern "Lutheran" theologians in Ger- 
many reject the verbal inspiration of the Bible, or the doctrine that 
Holy Scripture is a priori God's Word, maintaining that the char- 
acter of Scripture must be determined historically, or a posteriori, 
by way of human investigation. 

The result of their "investigation" therefore is that the Holy 
Scripture is not the Word of God, but rather a human account of 
divine revelations ("Offenbarungsurkunde"), which, though more 
or less influenced by the Holy Spirit, is not without error and must 
therefore be subjected to the critical judgment of Bible scholars. 
These theologians still speak of "inspiration"; yet they do not 
mean that true inspiration by which Holy Scripture has become 
the unique source and norm of faith until the end of time (John 
17, 20; Eph. 2, 20), but merely an intensified illumination, which 
is found more or less in all Christian authors. 

The same may be said of most American theologians, although 
among them Charles Hodge, William Shedd, and Benjamin War- 
field have defended the Scriptural doctrine of verbal and plenary 
inspiration. In Germany there is at the present time hardly 
a single outstanding university professor who still upholds the doc- 
trine of verbal and plenary inspiration. This all but universal 
denial of inspiration is one of the saddest chapters in the history 
of the Christian Church; for every one who repudiates the inspi- 
ration of the Bible subverts the foundation upon which the Chris- 
tian faith rests and falls under the condemnation of God, Matt. 
11, 25. In the last analysis all objections to the inspiration of 
the Bible flow from the carnal, unbelieving heart, Rom. 8, 7; 
1 Cor. 2, 14. 

Among the objections raised against the Biblical doctrine of 
inspiration the following may be noted : — 



a. The different style in the various books of the Bible, or more 
exactly, the claim that God's peculiar style would be found through- 
out the Bible were He really its divine Author. Our reply to this 
criticism is that in general God's unique style is indeed noticeable 
throughout Holy Scripture, which bears the ineffaceable imprint of 
its divine Author on every page. The simplicity, majesty, and 
sublimity of the Biblical style are found in no book written by 
men ; in fact, the style of the Bible is so unique that there is only 
one Holy Bible in the world. We may apply to Scripture the 
words that were spoken with regard to our Savior: "Never man 
spake like this man," John 7, 46. If within this general scope the 
various books of the Bible differ from one another somewhat in 
style and diction, we must remember that the Holy Spirit, in 
giving His holy Word to men, always accommodated Himself to 
the holy writers whom He employed in His holy service. Calov 
says very fittingly: "There may be recognized in it [the Bible] 
a condescension of the Holy Spirit; for He sometimes accommo- 
dated Himself to the ordinary method of speaking, allowing the 
writers their own style of speech." This, correctly understood, is 
the "human side" of Scripture. This expression, however, must 
not be taken in the sense of modern rationalistic theologians, who 
apply it to certain portions of Holy Writ, which they reject as 
"erroneous" and therefore as "uninspired." 

In opposition to modern rationalistic theology the Christian 
believer stands firm upon the vital truth that Holy Scripture has 
no "uninspired parts" whatsoever, but that it is in all its parts 
the inerrant Word of God, given by divine inspiration. Instead 
of criticizing the different styles of Scripture, men ought to recog- 
nize in this fact God's gracious condescension and wonderful love; 
for by giving us His heavenly doctrines through so many different 
writers, who address us in so many different ways, He rendered 
His sublime Word all the more intelligible and acceptable to man- 
kind. Had God spoken to us in the language which is used in 
heaven, not a single person in this world could have understood 
His Word and learned from it the way of salvation, 2 Cor. 12, 4. 

b. The variant readings in the copies of Scripture. Variant 
readings (variae lectiones) are indeed found in the copies of the 
holy writings of the prophets and apostles that have been preserved 
to us. However, since the variant readings occur only in the 
copies, they furnish no argument whatsoever against the divine 
inspiration of the Bible, since the variants owe their origin to 



lapses in transcription. In spite of the variant readings, however, 
the texts which we have to-day contain the Word of God both in 
its original purity and its original entirety. This we know a priori 
from Christ's direct promise (John 17, 20; 8, 31. 32; Matt. 28, 20; 
John 10,35; Matt. 24, 35; Luke 21,33; 16,17) and a posteriori 
from the fact, ascertained by scientific investigation, that in spite 
of the numerous variae lectiones not a single doctrine of God's 
Word has been rendered doubtful or uncertain. God, who has 
given us His Word, has also graciously preserved it to the present 
day and will preserve it to the end of time (gubernatio divina). 
We recognize God's providence also in the many repetitions of His 
doctrines throughout the Bible. As a result of this, even if entire 
books (Antilegomena) or entire passages (Mark 16, 9 — 20) are 
called into question, we may still prove the divine doctrines from 
other books and passages in the Bible, which are universally 
acknowledged as authentic and canonical (Eomologumena) . 

c. The study and research of the holy writers. Independent 
study and historical research were indeed carried on at times by 
the holy writers; for they themselves tell us that they were 
prompted to write not only new revelations, but also such things 
as they knew in consequence of their general study and their 
special experience, Gal. 1, 17 — 24; Luke 1, Iff. However, this fact 
does not disprove the doctrine of inspiration, since the Holy Spirit 
utilized for His beneficent purpose of giving to fallen man the 
Word of God also the general knowledge of the sacred penmen, 
just as He utilized their natural gifts and talents (experience, style, 
culture, etc.). Inspiration is not mere revelation, but the divine 
prompting (impulsus scribendi) to record the truths which God 
desired that men should know in words He Himself supplied, 
2 Sam. 23, 2ff. Some of these truths were given the holy writers 
by direct revelation, 1 Cor. 11, 23; 14,37; 2,7 — 13; others were 
known to them by experience, Acts 17, 28; Gal. 2, 11 — 14; others, 
again, by direct investigation and special research, Luke 1, Iff. 

In the treatment of the doctrine of divine inspiration the 
question is not : "How did the holy writers obtain the truths which 
they wrote ?" but rather : "Did the Holy Ghost prompt the sacred 
writers to write down certain words and thoughts which God 
wanted men to know ?" The fact that this was actually the case is 
clearly taught in Holy Scripture, 2 Tim. 3, 16; 2 Pet. 1, 21, so that 
the doctrine of inspiration is beyond dispute. When on Pentecost 
the apostles proclaimed to the multitude salvation by the risen 



Savior, who had suffered and died for the sins of the world, they 
announced facts which to a large extent were known to them by 
experience, John 20, 201; 21, 12; yet of all the words which they 
proclaimed Scripture says : "They began to speak . . . as the Spirit 
gave them utterance/' Acts 2, 4. Not only in that Pentecostal 
preaching, but in the composition of all their writings the Holy 
Spirit "gave utterance" to the apostles. 

d. Alleged contradictions in the Bible. In connection with 
this point we distinguish between external and internal contra- 
dictions. By external contradictions we mean the seeming his- 
torical discrepancies in the Bible. Internal contradictions pertain 
to doctrines. With regard to real contradictions in doctrine, we 
know a priori that none can occur, — though to human reason this 
often appears to be the case, — since the whole Bible is the Word of 
the infallible God, 2 Tim. 3, 16; 2 Pet. 1,21. Even if two doc- 
trines of Scripture seem to contradict each other ( e. g., gratia uni- 
versalis, electio particularis), the Christian theologian never admits 
a real contradiction, 2 Cor. 1, 18 — 20, but only a partial revelation, 
1 Cor. 13, 9, which will be perfected in glory, 1 Cor. 13, 10. 12. For 
this reason the Christian believer teaches both doctrines side by 
side in their given purity, without any attempt on his part to bridge 
over the gap or to solve the apparent discrepancy, Eev. 22, 18. 19. 

External contradictions, or seeming historical discrepancies, 
occur in Scripture especially in quotations from the Old Testament, 
1 Cor. 10, 8 and Num. 25, 9. The variants in the manuscripts, 
owing to faulty transcription, add to the number of these seeming 
contradictions. The wonder, however, is not that such seeming 
contradictions do occur in the Bible, — for we must not forget that 
the copyists were fallible men, who were subject to error in tran- 
scribing the sacred text, — but rather that, relatively speaking, 
there are so few of them and that in most cases they can be satis- 
factorily adjusted. (Cf. Dr. W. Arndt's Does the Bible Contradict 
Itself 7) 

But even if the Christian theologian cannot adjust an apparent 
historical discrepancy to his full satisfaction, he does not charge 
Scripture with error, but leaves the matter undecided, mindful of 
Christ's declaration that "the Scripture cannot be broken," John 
10, 35. Particulars with regard to this subject belong to the 
domain of Christian isagogics, where they receive detailed con- 
sideration; but the dogmatician is concerned with the matter in 
so far as it is his duty to point out the correct principles which 



must guide the Bible student in his estimation of Scripture as 
God's inspired Word. Foremost among these is the basic truth 
that it is unworthy of a Christian theologian to criticize the in- 
^rrant Word of God; for it is his function to teach the Gospel, 
Mark 16, 15. 16; Matt. 28, 20, and not to oppose the infallible 
Word by his own fallible views and judgments, 1 Tim. 6, 3 — 5. 
(Cf. Luther on the historical reliability of Scripture, St. L., XIV, 
490 ff.) In passing, we may add that the seeming historical dis- 
crepancies in the Bible never affect the doctrines which Scripture 
teaches for our salvation. 

e. Inaccurate quotations in the New Testament. It is asserted 
that the Bible cannot be the inspired Word of God because the 
New Testament so frequently quotes the Old Testament "inac- 
curately" and even "wrongly." The argument is that, if the Bible 
were the infallible Word of God, the citations from the Old Testa- 
ment that are given in the New Testament would always be exact, 
or literal. This, however, is not the case. Sometimes the apostles 
quote the Old Testament literally; sometimes they quote the read- 
ing of the Septuagint; at other times they quote the Septuagint, 
but correct it according to the Hebrew original ; finally, sometimes 
they reproduce neither the Hebrew text nor the Septuagint, but 
state the general scope of the text in their own words. This 
divergent manner of quoting the Old Testament, however, does not 
disprove the fact of divine inspiration of the Bible; on the con- 
trary, it rather proves it, since evidently the divine Author of the 
whole Bible quoted His holy words as it pleased Him. Had the 
New Testament writers been impostors, they would have been 
obliged to quote the Old Testament literally in every instance; 
for it would have been in their interest to prove to their readers 
their extensive acquaintance and perfect agreement with the Old 
Testament. As it was, the Holy Spirit, who spoke through them, 
directed them to cite and apply the Word of God as the occasion 
required and as His holy purposes were best served, Gal. 4, 21 — 31. 
It is always the privilege of an author to quote his writings as he 
sees fit, and this prerogative must not be denied to the Holy Spirit. 

f. Trivial matters in Scripture. The inspiration of the Bible 
has further been denied on the ground that it contains "trivial 
things" (levicula) and, besides, bad grammar, poor rhetoric, bar- 
barisms, solecisms, and the like. Examples of trivial matters, it 
is asserted, are the minutely reported domestic affairs of the patri- 
archs, their manifold sins and failings, the dietetic prescription for 



Timothy that he should use a little wine for his stomach's sake, 

1 Tim. 5, 23, Paul's request for his cloak, books, and parchments, 

2 Tim. 4, 13, and others. These levicula, it is said, are unworthy of 
the Holy Spirit and would not have been mentioned by Him if He 
really were the Author of Scripture. 

However, this argument does not apply; for if God made the 
vine, should He not prescribe its correct use? If He deigned to 
establish the home, should He not picture in Scripture a few home 
scenes for our instruction, warning, and comfort, 2 Tim. 3, 16 ? If 
the very hairs on our heads are all numbered, Matt. 10, 30, must 
not the "trivial things" in the lives of God's saints be regarded as 
of the greatest concern to Him ? Some of the most weighty lessons 
of faith and piety attach to the "trivial things" which Holy Scrip- 
ture inculcates (the right use of the divinely prescribed means; the 
apostle's devotion to the Gospel in spite of his poverty ; the apostle's 
studiousness, which prompted him to demand books even when he 
was in prison). It is not the business of any theologian to pre- 
scribe to God what kind of Bible He should write or to find fault 
with the Bible which He did write, but to teach with holy reverence 
and devout submission the entire Word of salvation which God 
in His infinite grace was pleased to bequeath to lost mankind as 
the source of faith and the norm of life, Acts 20, 17 — 28. 

The argument against the inspiration of Scripture which is 
based upon the so-called barbarisms, solecisms, grammatical 
errors, etc., must be rejected as ignoring the well-known fact 
that the New Testament was written in the xotvrj, or the universal 
popular speech of that time, which differed greatly from classical 
Greek, but was understood by practically all peoples and tribes in 
the Eoman Empire. The Holy Spirit chose this language because 
He wished the writings of His holy penmen to be understood by 
the common people, Col. 4, 16 ; 1 Thess. 5, 27, from whose ranks 
the first Christian churches were largely organized, Eom. 16, 3 — 15. 
The Greek of the New Testament is not "vulgar" or "bad" Greek; 
it was the vernacular of the people (Volkssprache) in the period 
when Christianity was spread in the heathen world and the Holy 
Bible was written. The Hebraisms in the New Testament are not 
anomalies, but are found in all writings where Jewish influence 
exerted itself upon the common Greek. 

g. Special Scripture-passages are said to deny inspiration. 
Those who deny the divine inspiration of the Bible also point out 
certain Scripture-passages which allegedly contradict the fact of 




inspiration. Of these the foremost is 1 Cor. 7, 12 : "To the rest 
speak I, not the Lord," contrasted with 1 Cor. 7, 10 : "Unto the 
married I command, yet not I, but the Lord." Luther explains 
this passage by saying that here the apostle does not inculcate 
a divine commandment, but merely gives counsel in a matter which 
concerned the life of the Corinthian Christians. "He distinguishes 
his words from those of the Lord in such a way that the Word of 
the Lord should be a commandment, but his word should be 
a counsel." (St. L., VIII, 1058.) This explanation is supported 
by 1 Cor. 7, 25. Both statements are certainly inspired ; but while 
v. 2 of this chapter gives the principle, v. 122. the apostolic counsel 
for the contingency. It must not be overlooked that St. Paul wrote 
this entire epistle as "an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will 
of God," 1 Cor. 1, 1, so that "the things that he wrote" were "the 
commandments of the Lord," 1 Cor. 14, 37. It has been suggested, 
moreover, that, since Paul was accustomed to support his state- 
ments by quotations from the Old Testament or from the teachings 
of Jesus, he merely wished to indicate that in this instance he had 
no definite commandment from the Lord to which he might refer 
his readers, but was uttering a hitherto unexplained truth as an 
inspired apostle. This explanation is quite plausible, since mani- 
festly in 1 Cor. 7, 10 he alludes to Matt. 19, 6. 9. Certainly this one 
passage gives us no right whatever to deny the divine inspiration 
of Scripture, which is attested in so many clear passages, especially 
since the apostle himself deprecates this conclusion, 1 Cor. 14, 37, 
h. The alleged evil consequences of the doctrine of inspiration* 
This argument is preferred quite commonly by the exponents of 
modern theology. Asserting that the "Christian consciousness" or 
"Christian experience" or human reason must be recognized as 
a principium cognoscendi and chafing under the divine restraint,. 
1 Pet. 4, 11, they allege that belief in the divine inspiration of Holy 
Scripture would result in "intellectualism," "Biblicism," "letter 
service," "the constraint of the free spirit of investigation," "the 
failure to find new religious truths," "the inability of the theo- 
logian to accommodate himself to present-day religious thought/* 
"sectarianism," and the like. 

All these objections may be traced back to the same source,, 
namely, to the averseness of rationalistic and naturalistic theo- 
logians to being bound to divine truth definitely fixed in a Scrip- 
tural canon. As a matter of fact, if the Bible is God's holy Book, 
given to men as the only source and norm of faith and life until 



the end of time, then any doctrine which is contrary to Scripture 
is eo ipso condemned and rejected, nationalism repudiates the 
doctrine of divine inspiration in order that it may spread its own 
false teachings and pernicious errors. But just for that very reason 
the Word of God is so emphatic in condemning every departure 
from God's holy truth revealed in Scripture, Rom. 16, 17; 2 John 
9 — 11 ; 1 Tim. 1, 3 ; 6, 3£f., and in inculcating the most steadfast 
adherence to the Bible, Matt. 5, 18—19 ; Rev. 22, 18. 19. In the 
last analysis there is only one reason why men reject the doctrine 
of the divine inspiration of the Bible, namely, unbelief, or revolt 
against God and His established Word. 



In answer to the claim that the doctrine of inspiration is 
a "dogmatic construction," which owes its origin to the later dog- 
maticians of the Lutheran Church, we point to the fact that already 
in its Confessions the Lutheran Church upheld the plenary inspira- 
tion of the Bible, although at that time the doctrine was not in 
controversy, so that there was no pressing need for presenting it in 
detail. A few quotations from our Confessions show in what way 
the writers regarded the Holy Bible. We read: "Whence have 
the bishops the right to lay these traditions upon the Church . . . 
when Peter, Acts 15, 10, forbids to put a yoke upon the neck of the 
disciples and Paul says, 2 Cor. 13, 10, that the power given him was 
to edification? Did the Holy Ghost in vain forewarn of these 
things?" (Augsburg Conf., Art. XXVIII.) Again: "You have 
now therefore, reader, our Apology, from which you will understand 
not only what the adversaries have judged, . . . but also that they 
have condemned several articles contrary to the manifest Scripture 
of the Holy Ghost/' (Apol, § 9. Triglot, p. 101.) Again: "In this 
way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the 
New Testament and all other writings is preserved, and the Holy 
Scriptures alone remain the only judge, rule, and standard accord- 
ing to which, as the only touchstone, all dogmas shall and must be 
discerned and judged as to whether they are good or evil, right or 
wrong." (Formula of Concord, Epitome, § 7; Triglot, p. 779.) 

From these and many other statements in our Confessions it 
is obvious that their writers regarded the Holy Bible as the inspired 
and infallible Word of God; hence the claim that the doctrine of 
verbal and plenary inspiration is "an artificial theory of the later 



dogmaticians" ("tine kuenstliche Theorie der spaeteren Dogma- 
tiker") is unfounded. The later Lutheran dogmaticians taught no 
other doctrine concerning Holy Scripture than that which was 
maintained and defended in the Lutheran Confessions. 

Closely related to the claim just stated is another, namely, 
that Luther himself did not regard the Bible as verbally and 
plenarily inspired, but that he assumed a "free attitude" on this 
point. However, Luther's position, or attitude, toward the Bible 
was the very opposite of "free"; for time and again he professed 
himself to be bound to God's Word, set forth in Scripture, as the 
following statements of his plainly show: "Holy Scripture was 
spoken through the Holy Ghost." (St. L., Ill, 1895.) Again: 
"The Bible is 'God's Letter' to men." (I, 1055.) Again: "The 
Bible did not grow upon earth." (VII, 2095.) Etc. While Lu- 
ther's chief opponents, the papists, asserted the traditions, the 
decisions of the church councils, and the decrees of the Popes to be 
sources of faith, Luther recognized but one standard of faith — 
God's Book, the Bible. In it "the Holy Spirit so speaks to us" 
that even "the trivial things" in it are the teachings of the "high 
divine Majesty." (St. L., XIV, 2ff.) In it "the absolutely pure 
mouth of the Holy Spirit" revealed even the "atrocious, indecent 
tale" of Judah and Tamar (Gen. 38) for our comfort. (St. L., 
II, 1200 ff.) Even as to historical and scientific matters recorded 
in Scripture we must "do the Holy Spirit the honor of admitting 
that He is more learned than we are." (St. L., Ill, 21 ; XV, 1481.) 
The Holy Spirit did not commit any mistakes even in the 
chronology of Scripture. (St. L., I, 713 ff.) Modern rationalistic 
theologians hold that there are "degrees of inspiration," a view 
which practically denies the entire inspiration of Scripture. 
Luther, on the contrary, "assigned the whole Bible to the Holy 
Ghost." (St. L., Ill, 1890.) Ad Ps. 127, 3 he says that not only 
the words (vocabula), but the very mode of expression (phrasis) 
is divine (divina). (St.L., IV, 1960.) 

In view of these express declarations of Luther the alleged 
proofs from his writings on behalf of his "free position" sink into 
insignificance from the very outset. Luther is supposed to have 
taught that the Bible contains "hay, straw, and stubble," in other 
words, truth and error. But this quotation is incorrect; for when 
using those words, Luther did not refer to the Biblical writers, but 
to the interpreters of the Bible. (Kawerau, Theol. Lit.-Ztg., 1895, 
p. 216; cf. also Christliche Dogmatik, Vol. I, p. 346 ff.) What 



Luther here says of the interpreters of the Bible in olden times 
(St. L., XIV, 150) is true of all Bible interpreters to this day ; for 
sometimes they err in explaining the sacred text. 

Again, Luther is said to have taught that certain passages in 
Scripture are "inadequate." The reference in this case is especially 
to Gal. 4, 2 Iff., on which passage he remarked that in a controversy 
with Jews (contra Iudaeos), who did not accept Paul's apostolic 
authority, it is less valid in controversy ( in acie minus valet ) than 
others; or according to some German translations, it is "zum Stick 
zu schwach," that is to say, it does not convince. By this expres- 
sion, however, Luther did not mean to deny the doctrine of inspira- 
tion, but merely wished to indicate that Paul's allegory, as used in 
this passage, would not convince an unbelieving Jew, who did not 
accept the apostle's authority. This certainly is true, especially 
since Paul in his interpretation departs from the literal sense of 
the words and shows its allegorical meaning, as Luther rightly 
points out. (Cf. St. L., I, 1150.) 

Moreover, Luther's "free position" with respect to Scripture 
is supposed to appear from his sharp distinction between the 
Homologumena and the Antilegomena in the New Testament 
canon. We admit the fact that Luther did make distinctions ( e. g., 
the epistle of James he calls a "strawy epistle" as compared with 
Paul's epistles, St. L., XIV, 91); but at the same time he 
regarded all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures as God's 
divinely inspired Word, just as we do to-day, though we, too, 
acknowledge the distinction between Homologumena and Antile- 
gomena. Furthermore it is said that Luther accepted a "canon 
within the canon," since he limited the divine authority of the 
Bible to those books which "urge Christ" ("Christum treiben"). 
The passages on which this contention is based are found in the 
St. Louis Ed. (XIV, 129, and XIX, 1441) and read: "Whatever 
does not urge Christ is not yet apostolic, even if St. Peter or 
St. Paul should teach it. On the other hand, whatever teaches 
Christ, that is apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, or Herod 
should do it." And : "If our adversaries insist upon Scripture, we 
insist upon Christ against Scripture." As strange as these state- 
ments may sound when they are removed from their context, they 
become perfectly clear when they are considered in their con- 
nection. By Scripture Luther here does not mean the Bible per se, 
but as it was falsely interpreted by the papists. This fully explains 
the second quotation. The first is explained by the fact that 



Luther here assumes a case which in reality can never occur, since 
neither St. Paul nor St. Peter could teach anything without "urging 
Christ," nor would Annas, Pilate, or Herod "urge Christ," no 
matter what they presumed to teach. Luther's insistence here was 
upon the authority of the divine Christ whom the Bible teaches 
from beginning to end as the Church's only Lord, Luke 24, 25 — 27 ; 
Acts 10, 43. 

Whatever other arguments have been advanced to prove Lu- 
ther's "free position" with regard to Holy Scripture come under 
the same category as those cited above. In the interest of their 
pernicious designs modern theologians either misquote Luther or 
misapply his statements. In spite of this, however, they cannot 
disprove the clear words in which Luther emphatically professes his 
devoted loyalty to Scripture as God's own inspired Book. 


The amazing apostasy of modern Protestant theologians from 
the Biblical doctrine of inspiration is strikingly depicted in Has- 
tings's Encyclopedia, where we read: "Protestant scholars of the 
present day, imbued with the scientific spirit, have no a-priori 
theory of the inspiration of the Bible. . . . They do not open any 
book of the Old or New Testament with the feeling that they are 
bound to regard its teaching as sacred and authoritative. They 
yield to nothing but what they regard as the irresistible logic of 
facts. . . . And if in the end they formulate a doctrine of the 
divine influence under which the Scriptures were written, this is 
an inference from the characteristics which, after free and fair 
investigation, they are constrained to recognize." And again: 
"To sum up, the old doctrine of the equal and infallible inspira- 
tion of every part of the Old Testament ... is now rapidly disap- 
pearing among Protestants. There is in reality no clean dividing- 
line between what is and what is not worthy of a place in the 
Scriptures." (VII, 346, et al.) In a similar vein the late Theodor 
Kaftan wrote: "We are realists" (Wirklichkeitsmenschen), which 
he explains to mean: "We do not regard as authoritative what 
Scripture teaches of itself, but only what we profess as divine 
truth according to the impr&sion which Scripture makes upon us." 
(Moderne Theologie des alien Glaubens, 2, pp. 108. 113.) 

This express denial of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture 
in spite of its own clear and unmistakable testimony is prompted, 



in the last analysis, only by unbelief, or the sheer refusal of human 
reason to accept the truth of God's Word. It was so in Christ's 
time, when our Lord reproved the unbelieving Jews: "Because 
I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not. ... If I say the truth, 
why do ye not believe Me ? He that is of God heareth God's words ; 
ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God," John 8, 
45 — 47, and it is so to-day. In his criticism of the unbelief of the 
Pharisees, Christ became very severe and rebuked them thus : "Ye 
are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. 
He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, 
because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he 
speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it," John 
8, 44. This criticism of the carnal heart, which rejects God's Word, 
applies with the same force and emphasis to-day. Rationalistic 
theologians to-day accuse the "later Lutheran dogmaticians" of 
having invented "an artificial theory" ("eine kuenstliche Theorie") 
when they taught the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Bible; 
they thus became guilty of a historical falsehood. In addition, they 
resort to logical fallacies to bolster up their rejection of God's Word, 
claiming that the doctrine of inspiration is disproved by the dif- 
ferent style of the various writers, their private study and research, 
the variae lectiones in the copies, and the like. However, the real 
source of every denial of the doctrine of inspiration is unbelief. 
The consequences of the denial of Biblical inspiration are in- 
deed far-reaching. As a matter of fact, Christianity stands and 
falls with this doctrine ; for if there is no inspired Scripture, there 
can be no divine doctrine. In particular, all who deny the divine 
inspiration of the Bible, and as long as they do so, have no pos- 
sibility of ever knowing the divine truth; for this is possible only 
in case men "continue in Christ's Word," John 8, 31. 32 ; 1 Tim. 
6, 3. 4. Moreover they give up faith in the Christian sense, since 
faith comes alone by hearing God's Word, Rom. 10, 17; Jas. 1, 18; 
1 Pet. 1, 23. So, too, they give up Christian prayer with all its 
temporal and eternal blessings; for this presupposes faithful ad- 
herence to the words of Christ, as He Himself teaches: "If ye 
abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, 
and it shall be done unto you," John 15, 7. Again, they give up 
the possibility of triumphing over death; for only he "shall never 
see death" who keeps Christ's saying, John 8, 51. They also give 
up the only means by which the Christian Church is built upon 
earth, namely, the precious Gospel of Christ, Mark 16, 15. 16; 



Matt. 28, 19. 20; 2 John 9. 10. They likewise give up the only 
means by which the Christian Church may be preserved in its true 
unity of faith, Eph. 4, 3 — 6, as Luther rightly says : "The Word 
and the doctrine must make Christian unity and communion." 
(St. L., IX, 831.) In addition, they give up all communion with 
God, since we can find our precious Lord only in His Word, John 
6,67—69; 17,17; Luke 11,28; John 5, 24. Lastly they pervert 
the "wisdom that is from above," or "the wisdom of God in a mys- 
tery, which God ordained before the world unto our glory," but 
which "has never entered into the heart of man," Jas. 3, 17 ; 1 Cor. 
2, 7 — 9, into a doctrine of men, or into a "wisdom which descendeth 
not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish," Jas. 3, 15 ; for the 
denial of the divine inspiration of the Bible is invariably joined 
with the denial of the saving Gospel of Christ and with the teach- 
ingf of the pagan doctrine of work-righteousness. Rationalism 
begins with the disavowal of the doctrine of inspiration and ends 
with the repudiation of all the divine doctrines of Holy Scripture, 
unless by God's grace this destructive process is checked by a "for- 
tunate inconsistency," by which in practise the conclusions are not 
drawn from the premises that are theoretically maintained. If 
Paul's earnest warning "Be not deceived ; God is not mocked ; for 
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," Gal. 6, 7, applies 
anywhere, it applies especially to man's attitude toward the Scrip- 
tural doctrine of divine inspiration. 


Because the Bible is the Word of God, it possesses distinct 
divine properties, or attributes (affectiones divinae). These are: 
divine authority (auctoritas divina), divine efficacy (efficacia di- 
vina), divine perfection (perfectio divina), and divine perspicuity 
(perspicuitas divina). It is self-evident that these divine proper- 
ties must be denied to Scripture if its divine inspiration is rejected, 
for they follow from the fact that the Bible is God's own inspired 
and infallible Word. 


By the divine authority of Holy Scripture we mean the pecu- 
liar quality of the whole Bible according to which as the true Word 
of God it demands faith and obedience of all men and is and re- 
mains the only source and norm of faith and life. Our Savior Him- 
self acknowledged and asserted the divine authority of the Bible by 
quoting it in all cases of controversy as the only standard of truth, 



John 10, 35; Matt. 4, 4—10; 26,54; Luke 24, 25— 27 ; etc. And 
the holy apostles claimed divine authority not only for the Scrip- 
tures of the Old Testament, but also for their own inspired writings, 
1 Cor. 14, 37. 38 ; 2 Cor. 13, 3 ; Gal. 1, 8 ; 2 Thess. 3, 6. 14 ; 2, 15. 
Whoever therefore rejects Scripture or subjects it to human censor- 
ship and criticism becomes guilty of high treason against God; 
for Scripture possesses its divine authority not because of the holy 
men who wrote it nor because of the Christian Church, which re- 
veres and teaches it, but from the living God, who has inspired 
holy men to write it. In other words, the Bible has divine authority 
because it is in every part the inerrant Word of the living God. 
Just because it is a God-breathed Scripture (yga<pr) fteonvevoTog), 
it is authoritative (avromarog) and must therefore be both believed 
and obeyed. Because of its authority we believe the Bible on its 
own account, since it is the unique Book of God in which the 
sovereign Lord speaks to us. This fact we express dogmatically by 
saying that the divine authority of Holy Scripture is absolute, or 
free from dependence upon anything else for its existence 'and its 
certainty (auctoritas absoluta). 

The divine authority of Holy Scripture is divided into caus- 
ative authority (auctoritas causativa) and normative authority 
(auctoritas normativa). The causative authority of Holy Scripture 
is that by which it engenders and preserves faith in its own teach- 
ings through its very word, Eom. 10, 17. The normative, or canon- 
ical, authority of Holy Scripture is that by which it is the only 
norm and rule of faith, or the divinely instituted arbiter between 
truth and falsehood, John 5, 39 ; Luke 16, 29 ; Gal. 1, 8. 

If the question is asked how Scripture exercises its causative 
authority, or how we may become sure of its divine truth, we must 
distinguish between divine assurance (fides divina) and human as- 
surance (fides humana). The fides divina (faith assurance, spir- 
itual assurance, Christian assurance) is wrought directly by the 
Holy Ghost through the Word (testimonium Spiritus Sancti). In 
other words, Scripture attests itself as the divine truth, John 8, 
31. 32. Of this Quenstedt (I, 97) writes: "The ultimate reason by 
and through which we are led to believe with a divine and unshaken 
faith that God's Word is God's Word is the intrinsic power and 
efficacy of that Word itself, or the testimony and seal of the Holy 
Spirit, who speaks in and through Scripture, because the bestow- 
ment of faith ... is a work that emanates from the Holy Spirit/' 
(Doctr. Theol., p. 55.) Of the internal witness of the Holy Ghost, 



by which divine faith in Scripture is engendered, Hollaz writes 
thus: "By the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is here 
understood the supernatural act of the Holy Spirit, through the 
Word of God, attentively read or heard, ... by which He moves, 
opens, and illuminates the heart of man and incites it to faithful 
obedience." ( Ibid.) 

That the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit has given to 
us through the prophets and apostles, really possesses causative 
authority, or the power of attesting itself as the divine truth, inde- 
pendently of any external proof (fides humane), is clearly taught 
in Holy Scripture. To the Corinthians St. Paul writes that his 
"speech and preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and 
power," 1 Cor. 2, 4. 5, which means that the preaching of the apostle 
was spiritually effective in working faith and obedience in his 
hearers. To the Thessalonians the same apostle writes that they 
received the Word of God which they heard of him not as the 
word of men, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God, and this 
because the divine Word "effectually worketh in you that believe," 
1 Thess. 2, 13. 14. Again to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes that 
his Gospel came unto them not only in word, but also in power and 
in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance, so that they became 
followers of the Lord, 1 Cor. 1, 5. 6. The same causative authority 
as St. Paul ascribes to the divine Word in these passages Christ 
asserts, when He says: "If any man will do His will, he shall 
know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of 
myself," John 7, 17. From John 6, 40 we learn that "to do His 
will" means to hear and believe the divine Word, so that He ascribes 
the working of divine assurance to the divine Word itself. In this 
way, then, and only in this way, do we receive divine assurance of 
the truth of God's Word : Scripture attests itself as the true Word 
of God through the power of the Holy Ghost, who operates through 
the divine Word. This truth is of great practical importance ; for 
whenever doubts arise in the heart of the Christian regarding the 
divine Word, the only way in which to dispel them is to "search the 
Scriptures," John 5, 39, since they are the divine means by which 
the Holy Spirit enlightens and confirms him in the divine truth, 
1 John 5, 9. 10; John 3, 33 ; 2 Cor. 1, 20—22 ; Eph. 1, 13. 

Against the charge of Eoman Catholic theologians that Lu- 
theran theology here argues in a circle (argumentum in circiUo, 
idem per idem) we reply that, if Scripture cannot be relied upon 
in its testimony concerning itself, it cannot be relied upon in any 



other of its teachings. Moreover, the Lutheran argument regard- 
ing the causative authority of Scripture is not an argumentum in 
circulo, but rather one from effect to cause (ab effectu ad causam), 
and whoever denies the validity of this reasoning has no other 
choice than agnosticism and atheism. Quenstedt says very rightly 
(1, 101) : "The papists therefore wrongly accuse us of reasoning 
in a circle when we prove the Holy Scriptures from the testimony 
of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of the Holy Spirit from the 
Holy Scriptures. Else it would also be reasoning in a circle when 
Moses and the prophets testify concerning Christ and Christ con- 
cerning Moses and the prophets." (Doctr. Theol., p. 56.) 

While the fides divina, or spiritual assurance, is the gift of 
the Holy Spirit through the Word (faith engendered through the 
Word by the Holy Ghost), the fides humana, or human assurance, 
is based upon arguments or processes of reason. These arguments 
are either internal or external. The internal proofs for the divine 
authority of Holy Scripture relate to its marvelous style, the 
unique harmony of its parts, the sublime majesty of its subjects, 
its amazing predictions of future events and their remarkable 
fulfilment, the sublimity of its miracles, and the like. The external 
proofs relate to the astounding effects which the Bible has wrought 
wherever it was spread, such as the conversion of men steeped in 
spiritual ignorance and vice, the heroic faith of the martyrs, the 
moral and social improvements which the Gospel has effected, etc. 
As the rational study of the book of nature points to its divine 
Creator, so the rational study of the book of revelation suggests 
that it is the work of a divine Author and that therefore it is more 
reasonable to believe than to disbelieve its claims (the scientific 
proof for the divine authority of Scripture). 

All these arguments are utilized in Christian apologetics to 
demonstrate the futility of infidelity and its atheistic claims. But 
all arguments of reason do not beget "a divine, but merely a human 
faith ; not an unshaken certainty, but merely a credibility or a very 
probable opinion" (Quenstedt). Hence the value of these argu- 
ments must not be overestimated, for they can never make any 
person a believing child of God. But neither must they be under- 
estimated, since they are of great value in refuting the flippant 
charges of infidels and in strengthening Christians against the 
very doubts which from time to time arise in their own hearts. 
Cf. 1 Cor. 15, 12 — 19; Acts 17, 28. Nevertheless, no matter how 
reasonable these arguments may be, they never produce repentance 



and faith, since the conversion of a sinner is effected alone through 
the preaching of the Word of God, the Law bringing about contri- 
tion (terrores conscientiae, Rom. 3, 19. 20) and the Gospel, faith in 
Christ, Matt. 28, 19. 20 ; Acts 2, 37—39 ; Mark 16, 15. 16. 

In his ministry the Christian theologian employs arguments of 
reason chiefly to induce unconverted persons to read or hear God's 
Word, or we may say he uses them just as church-bells, which 
invite men to listen to the proclamation of the divine truth. In no 
case, however, may he employ them as substitutes for the Law and 
the Gospel, or the Word of God, Luke 16, 29—31 ; 24, 47. 48. 

If the question is asked how a person may be sure whether his 
assurance is fides divina or fides humana, the following points must 
be considered. The testimony of the Holy Spirit never occurs: 
a. outside, or in opposition to, Holy Scripture (enthusiasm), so that 
the "Christian assurance" or the "Christian experience" of all who 
reject the Bible as the Word of God is mere self-deception ; b. by 
means of mere arguments of reason or on the ground of human 
authority ("I believe the Bible because the Church teaches it") ; 
c. together with the repudiation of Chrisfs vicarious satisfaction, 
so that the assurance of divine grace which Modernists claim 
(Ritschl, Harnack) is pure fiction. On the other hand, the testi- 
mony of the Holy Spirit occurs in all true believers who accept 
Holy Scripture as the Word of God, and that upon its own witness, 
for this very faith in Scripture is the testimonium Spiritus Sancti. 
To this truth all true believers must hold, especially in hours of 
trial, when they do not feel the gladdening effects of the Spirit's 
witness in them, 1 John 5, 9. 10. The very fact that they are be- 
lievers proves the effective presence of the Holy Ghost in their 
hearts, for without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to have saving 
faith, 1 Cor. 12, 3; Acts 16, 14. 

With regard to the effects of the testimony of the Holy Spirit 
in the believer the Formula of Concord rightly argues that these 
must not be judged ex sensu, or by feeling, since the Holy Ghost is 
always operative in his heart as long as he adheres to God's Word, 
no matter whether he feels His operation or not. The feeling of 
the Spirit's operating grace belongs to the fruits of faith in the 
truth of the Gospel and thus to the external witness of the Holy 
Ghost (testimonium Spiritus Sancti externum), while His internal 
witness (testimonium Spiritus Sancti internum) is identical with 
saving faith, or true confidence in the divine promises of the Word. 
In the same vein Luther writes : "We do not distinguish the Holy 



Spirit from faith, nor is He contrary to faith; for He is Himself 
the assurance in the Word, who makes us certain of the Word, 
so that we do not doubt, but believe most certainly and beyond all 
doubt that it is just so and in no respect whatever different from 
that which God in His Word declares and tells us." (Erl. Ed., 
58, 153 f.) 

By virtue of its normative or canonical authority, Holy Scrip- 
ture is the only norm of faith and life and therefore also the only 
judge in all theological controversies. As the only rule of faith, 
Scripture performs both a directive and a corrective function ; for, 
on the one hand, it directs the thoughts of the human mind in 
such a way that they abide within the bounds of truth; and, on 
the other, it corrects errors, inasmuch as it is the only standard of 
right and wrong (Hollaz). Calov says very correctly (1,474): 
"The Holy Scriptures are a rule according to which all contro- 
versies in regard to faith or life in the Church should, and can be, 
decided, Ps. 19, 7 ; Gal. 6, 16 ; Phil. 3, 16 ; and as a norm they are 
not partial, but complete and adequate, because besides the Scrip- 
tures no other infallible rule in matters of faith and life can be 
given. All other rules besides the Word of God are fallible; and 
on this account we are referred to the Holy Scriptures as the only 
rule, Deut. 4, 2; 12,28; Josh. 23, 6; Is. 8, 20; Luke 16,29; 
2 Pet. 1, 19, to which alone Christ and the apostles referred as 
a rule, Matt. 4, 4ff.; 22, 29. 31; Mark 9, 12; John 5, 45; Acts 
3,20; 18,28; 26,22." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 61.) 

With regard to the use of Scripture as the norm of faith 
(norma doctrinae, index controversiarum) , it must be held that 
not only theologians (2 Tim. 2,2), but also all Christians in gen- 
eral should so employ the Word of God (Acts 17, 11), since it is 
their duty to supervise the ministry of their teachers (Col. 4, 17), 
to avoid all false prophets (Eom. 16, 17; Matt. 7, 15), and to 
spread the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ by personal evangelism 
(Col. 3, 16 ; 1 Pet. 2, 9). The spiritual ability to judge all matters 
of faith and doctrine Holy Scripture ascribes to all believers in 
express words, John 6, 45 ; 10, 4. 5. 27. Hence whoever denies the 
ability and authority of all Christians to judge questions of Chris- 
tian doctrine or life opposes Christ and reveals himself as an anti- 
christ. Luther writes very earnestly on this point : "To know and 
to judge matters of doctrine is a privilege which belongs to every 
believer, and every one is anathema who infringes upon this right 
even but a little. For in many incontestable passages of Scripture, 



Christ has granted this privilege to His Christians, for instance, in 
Matt. 7, 15 : ^Beware of false prophets/ etc. This warning He ad- 
dressed to the people in contrast to their teachers, commanding 
them to avoid all false prophets. But how can they avoid them if 
they do not know them? And how can they know them if they 
have no right to judge [their doctrine] ? Yet Christ gave to the 
people not only the right, but also the command to judge, so that 
this one passage suffices against the verdicts of all Popes, fathers, 
church councils, and schools that ascribed the authority to judge 
and pass sentence [upon the teachers of the Church] only to 
bishops and priests, and robbed the people, or the Church, the 
queen, in a most ungodly and sacrilegious manner/' (St. L., 
XIX, 341.) 

On the other hand, however, it must be affirmed that Christians 
must judge doctrinal matters not according to their own thoughts, 
but solely according to Scripture, 1 Pet. 4, 11, since in all matters 
of doctrine it alone is the index controversiarum. The objection 
of the papists that Scripture as a "dumb book" is unable to decide 
any matter is in opposition not only to Holy Scripture itself, which 
claims for itself this very authority, Matt. 4, 4ff.; Eom. 3, 19; 
John 7, 51, but also to reason, by which men are prompted to use 
authoritative records to decide issues in controversy (cf. the deci- 
sions of the Supreme Court). Every sensible person clearly under- 
stands what is meant by such phrases as "The Law decides," or 
"The Bible decides." Holy Scripture certainly is more capable of 
deciding questions of controversy than are the papal decretals, to 
which the papists have recourse in determining what to teach. Our 
Lutheran dogmaticians were quite right when they declared: 
"Scripture is never mute except where under the Papacy it is pre- 
vented from speaking. (Scriptura Sacra non est muta nisi in pa- 
pain, ubi prohibetur loqui.) 

In what manner controversial questions should be decided by 
the use of Holy Scripture may be stated briefly thus : First deter- 
mine the controversial point (status controversiae) and then place 
it in the light of all clear Scripture-passages that treat of the par- 
ticular point in question (sedes doctrinae; dicta probantia). In 
this manner Holy Scripture is given an opportunity to exercise its 
judicial function, not indeed by external compulsion (vi externa), 
but by internal persuasion (vi interna). Just so Christ employed 
the Scriptures as a judge in controversy when He said to the 
Pharisees : "There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom 



ye trust," John 5, 45 ; for here He referred to Moses inasmuch as 
he is speaking in Holy Scripture. 

By adhering to Holy Scripture as the sole source and norm 
of faith, the true visible Church of Christ on earth proves its 
orthodox character ; in other words, the orthodox Church of Christ 
on earth is found only where Holy Scripture is obeyed and followed 
in all questions of faith and life. It was for this reason that Luther 
so earnestly emphasized the doctrine of sola Scriptura as the formal 
principle of the Reformation and that to-day the confessional Lu- 
theran Church insists upon this doctrine with the same determi- 
nation. As soon as a Church, either in theory or in practise, rejects 
the authority of Scripture (Schriftprinzip), it ceases to be orthodox 
and becomes heterodox, that is to say, an erring Church, or a sect. 

In connection with the normative authority of Holy Scripture 
it must be emphasized that human reason in its magisterial use 
( usus magisterialis ) must never be allowed a place beside the Bible. 
In other words, man's natural knowledge of God, even so far as it 
is correctly retained in his perverted intellect, must never be co- 
ordinated with, but always be subordinated to, God's Word. Unless 
this is done, Scripture is not allowed to stand as the only judge of 
faith. But human reason in its ministerial, or instrumental, sense 
or reason as "the receiving subject or apprehending instrument" 
(Hollaz) must certainly be employed whenever Scripture is used 
as the norm of faith; for "as we see nothing without eyes and 
hear nothing without ears, so we understand nothing without 
reason" (Hollaz). This so-called instrumental use of reason (usus 
organicus; usus instrumentalis) implies both the correct use of 
the laws of human speech (grammar) and of the laws of human 
reasoning (logic), because God, in giving His Word to men, accom- 
modated Himself both to the canons of human speech and thought* 
This truth we considered already when we referred to Melanch- 
thon's dictum : Theologia debet esse grammatica, and to Luther's 
statement that whoever errs in grammar is bound to err also in 

However, just as human reason in general, so also human logic 
in particular serves the theologian only as a formal discipline (the 
science of correct and accurate thinking) and not as a philosophy 
or a metaphysical system, in which sense the term is sometimes 
used. In addition, even when logic is employed as a formal disci- 
pline (the science of reasoning), it must always be kept within 
its legitimate bounds. In other words, the theologian must always 



be on his guard against fallacies, or against untruths derived from 
the misuse of logic. For example, from the general truth of Scrip- / 
ture "God so loved the world" every person in this world may 
argue: "God so loved me," since the concept "world" includes 
every human being. In other words, the conclusion attained must 
always be a truth already contained in the premises, or in the 
Scriptural statements, according to the axiom: "Whatever infer- 
ences (consequential legitimae) are drawn from the declarations 
of Scripture must be proved as being directly expressed in the clear 
words of Scripture. ("Was man aus den Schriftwahrheiten er- 
schliesst, muss als in den Schriftworten ausgedrueckt nachgewiesen 

On the other hand, when logic is used to propose new doctrines 
not set forth in Scripture, the authority of Scripture (Schrift- 
prinzip) is annulled, and logic is made to serve as a teacher of 
false doctrine. Examples of misapplied logic are the following: 
"Since God has not elected all men, He does not desire to save 
all men." Or : "Since Peter was saved and Judas was lost, there 
must have been in Peter some cause why he was saved." Or: 
"Since every body is in space locally, Christ's body cannot be truly 
present in the Lord's Supper." Or: "Since the finite is incapable 
of the infinite, there can be no communication of attributes in the 
person of the God-man." Or: "As many persons there are, so 
many essences; hence there must be three essences in the God- 
head." Misdirected logic has proved the source of so many errors 
in theology that Gerhard's warning is well taken (II, 371) : "Not 
human reason, but divine revelation is the source of faith ; nor are 
we to judge concerning the articles of faith according to the dic- 
tates of reason; otherwise we should have no articles of faith, but 
only decisions of reason. The cogitations and utterances of reason 
should be restricted and restrained within the sphere of those things 
which are subject to the decisions of reason and not be extended to 
the sphere of such matters as are placed entirely beyond the reach 
of reason." (Doctr. Theol., p. 32 f.) 

With respect to the use of Holy Scripture as the only source 
and norm of faith our Lutheran dogmaticians rightly said that it 
is God's Book designed for all men, Luke 16, 29 — 31 ; John 5, 39; 
Acts 17, 11 ; even for children, 2 Tim. 3, 15 ; 1 John 2, 13. (Finis 
cui Scripturae sunt omnes homines.) For this reason the papal 
injunction against universal Bible-reading is antichristian. How- 
ever, it is equally true that all men should use Holy Scripture for 



obtaining salvation, 2 Tim. 3, 15, and not merely for the purpose 
of enriching their knowledge in general or of improving their style* 
(Finis cuius Scripturae Sacrae fides in Christum et solus aeterna 
est.) From this it is clear that it is also the will of God that the 
Bible should be translated into the various languages used in the 
world. (Versiones Scripturae Sacrae non solum utiles, sed etiam 
necessarian sunt.) The duty of translating the Bible into foreign 
languages is included in Christ's command to teach all nations, 
Matt. 28, 20. 

While Holy Scripture is the absolute norm of faith (norma 
normans, norma dbsoluta, norma primaria, norma decisionis), the 
Lutheran Church recognizes its officially received Confessions, or 
Symbols, as secondary norms (norma normata, norma secundum 
quid, norma secundaria, norma discretionis), or as true declara- 
tions of the doctrines of Holy Scripture, which all Lutheran theo- 
logians must confess and teach. For this reason the confessional 
Lutheran Church demands of all its public teachers and ministers 
a bona- fide subscription to all its Confessions as the pure and un- 
adulterated declarations of God's Word (quia, not quatenus). In 
other words, no public minister is permitted to administer his 
sobered office unless he declares himself convinced that the Lutheran 
Confessions set forth the pure Word of Ood. 

However, while Holy Scripture as the deciding norm (norma 
decisionis) is absolutely necessary, the Confessions as the distin- 
guishing norm of the Church (norma discretionis) are only rela- 
tively necessary. The former decides which doctrines are true or 
false ; the latter, whether a person has clearly understood the true 
doctrines of Scripture. (Norma discretionis discernit orthodoxos 
ah heterodoxis.) 

Although Scripture sufficiently attests itself as the divine 
truth in the believer's heart, God in His infinite wisdom has pro- 
vided that it should be attested also historically. That is to say, by 
proper historical investigation we fully know which books were 
composed by the sacred writers (prophets and apostles), through 
whom God wished to give His Word to the world. This historical 
evidence is of great value, on the one hand, against the papists, 
who by their antichristian decrees elevate human books to the dig- 
nity of the divine Scriptures, and, on the other, against unbelieving 
higher critics, who seek to degrade the Holy Scriptures to the level 
of human compositions. In addition, the historical evidence on 
behalf of the authenticity and integrity of the Bible is of value 




also for believing Christians, 6ince at times the testimony of the 
Holy Spirit in their hearts may be weakened or suppressed entirely 
by doubts. 

For the divine authority of the Old Testament we have the 
express testimony not only of the Jewish Church, but also of our 
omniscient Savior, who without qualification acknowledged the 
Bible that was in use at His time as canonical, Luke 16, 29 ; 24, 44; 
John 5,39; 10,35; Matt. 5, 17. Had the Jewish Church erred 
regarding its canon, our divine Lord could not have declared it to 
be "the Scriptures/' John 5, 39. The Old Testament Apocrypha 
were received as canonical neither by the Jewish Church nor by 
Christ. The -fact that the Eoman Catholic Church nevertheless 
elevated them to canonical rank proves its antichristian character. 
For the Scriptures of the New Testament we have Christ's direct 
statement and promise that both His own and the apostles' Word 
shall be preserved and acknowledged as the infallible norm of faith 
to the end of time, Matt. 24, 35; John 17, 20; Eph. 2, 20. If the 
divine Word is not recognized as such, the fault rests not with 
Scripture, but with the blindness and perverseness of those who 
decline to believe God's Word. 

The historical testimony of the canonical books of the New 
Testament has been adequately supplied by the ancient Christian 
Church (ecclesia primitiva). Its acknowledgment of the four 
gospels, the thirteen epistles of Paul, the First Epistle of John, and 
the First Epistle of Peter was unanimous (Homologumena). With 
regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Second Epistle of Peter, 
the Second and the Third Epistle of John, the Epistle of James, 
the Epistle of Jude, and Eevelation, doubts were expressed, so that 
they were classified as Antilegomena. (Cf. Eusebius, Church His- 
tory, Bk. III.) Nevertheless, though the canonical character of the 
Antilegomena was questioned by some, each received sufficient testi- 
mony to entitle it to a place in the canon, from which all spurious 
apostolic writings (pseudepigraphs) were rigidly ruled out. In 
case, however, the authority of the Antilegomena as a source and 
norm of faith should be denied to-day (cf. Luther's verdict on the 
Epistle of St. James), the same doctrines which are set forth in 
them may be sufficiently proved from the Homologumena, since the 
Antilegomena do not contain a single doctrine that is not taught 
in the Homologumena. 

The question whether also the later Christian Church has the 



authority to declare certain books to be canonical must be denied 
most emphatically. When the ancient Church differentiated be- 
tween Homologumena and Antilegomena, this was a purely histor- 
ical procedure, involving nothing more than the question whether 
certain books were written by such and such an apostle of Christ 
or not; but when in the sixteenth century the Council of Trent, 
contrary to the historical judgment of the early Church, declared 
that also the Apocrypha should rank as canonical, it arbitrarily 
added to the fixed canon writings which neither Christ nor His 
holy apostles accepted as such. The later Christian Church cannot 
change or supplement the established canon, because it is not in 
a position to furnish the historical evidence which is required to 
pronounce a certain book canonical or not. The Lutheran dogma- 
tician Chemnitz very correctly called it an antichristian under- 
taking to eliminate the distinction between the Homologumena 
and the Antilegomena which the ancient Christian Church has 

With regard to the manner in which the primitive Church 
proceeded in fixing the Biblical canon, Chemnitz writes (Ex. Trid., 
I, 87) : "The testimony of the primitive Church in the times of the 
apostles concerning the genuine writings of the apostles the imme- 
diately succeeding generations constantly and faithfully retained 
and preserved, so that, when many others [writings] afterwards 
were brought forward, claiming to have been written by the apostles, 
they were tested and rejected as supposititious and false, first, for 
this reason, that it could not be shown and proved by the testimony 
of the original Church either that they were written by the apostles 
or approved by the living apostles and transmitted and entrusted 
by them to the Church in the beginning; secondly, because they 
proposed strange doctrine not accordant with that which the 
Church received from the apostles and which was at that time still 
preserved in the memory of all" (Doctr. Theol., p. 85.) 

With regard to the gospels of Mark and Luke and the Acts 
of the Apostles it may be said that the ancient Church placed these 
unanimously and without any qualification among the Homolo- 
gumena, though they were not written by apostles. This was done 
on the ground that the two gospels were composed under the super- 
vision of St. Peter and St. Paul, respectively, while the Book of 
Acts was accepted as a canonical Scripture fully approved by 
St. Paul. Since the ancient Christian Church has placed these 
writings among the Homologumena, the question concerning their 



place in the canon ought not to cause any difficulties to-day ; at best 
it is only of academic interest. 

The integrity of the New Testament may be assumed a priori, 
since Christ assures us that His Word, as this is set forth in the 
writings of the holy apostles, or in Holy Scripture, John 17, 20; 
Eph. 2, 20; John 8, 31. 32, shall never pass away, Matt. 24, 35. 
The integrity of the Old Testament is guaranteed by Christ's direct 
and express testimony, John 5, 39. 

With respect to the various versions of the Bible we rightly 
hold that not only the original Hebrew and Greek texts, but also 
the translations of these texts are really and truly God's Word, 
provided they fully agree with the original reading. On the other 
hand, where translations deviate from the original texts and teach 
anything contrary to them, they must be rejected as not being the 
Word of God. Since translators never write by inspiration of the 
Holy Ghost, but are subject to the common failings of men, all 
Bible versions must be diligently compared with the original text 
to ascertain whether they are correct or not, and for this reason 
the theologian ought to possess an adequate knowledge of Hebrew 
and Greek. 

However, the gap between the original text and its transla- 
tions must not be widened unduly, so as to create doubts regarding 
their authority ; for the language of Scripture is in most instances 
so direct and simple that any translator who performs his work 
conscientiously is compelled by the clear and direct language of 
Scripture to reproduce the sense of the original. Even the Vulgate 
sets forth the chief truths of the Christian faith with sufficient 
clearness though it is fraught with errors from beginning to end. 
However, the arbitrary promulgation of the Vulgate as the only 
authoritative text by the Roman Catholic Church was an act so 
altogether contrary to the spirit of Christ and His apostles that it 
furnishes additional proof that the papal Church is the Church 
of Antichrist. 

Luther's methodological advice that the minister, when teaching 
the Catechism, "should above all things avoid the use of different 
texts and forms, but adopt one form and adhere to it, since the 
young and ignorant people will easily become confused if we teach 
thus to-day and otherwise next year, as if we thought of making 
improvements," applies also to the use of Bible translations in the 
pulpit or wherever else Christian ministers may instruct the com- 
mon people. 



(Divina Efflcacia.) 

Because Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God, it pos- 
sesses not only divine authority, but also divine efficacy, that is to 
say, the creative power to work in man, who by nature is spiritually 
dead, both saving faith and true sanctification, Bom. 10, 17 : faith; 
1 Pet. 1,23: regeneration; John 17,20: faith and sanctification. 
The Word of God does not merely teach man the way of salvation 
and show him the means by which he may attain it; but by its 
truly divine power (vis vere divina) it actually converts, regen- 
erates, and renews him. This unique efficacy is possessed by no 
other book in the world nor by any discourse of man unless these 
repeat God's Word as set forth in the Bible ; for the divine efficacy 
of Scripture is nothing else than God's power in the Word, Rom. 
1, 16. Luther is certainly right when he writes (Smalcald Art., 
VIII, 3 : "We must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace 
to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word." 
And again (Large Cat., 101) : "Such is the efficacy of the Word, 
whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is 
bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new under- 
standing, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and 
pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but 
creative, living words." 

In opposition to all erroneous doctrine on this point, which 
either denies the divine efficacy of Scripture altogether and ascribes 
to it only a moral direction and instruction (Unitarianism, Pelagi- 
anism) or separates the divine power from the Word (enthusiasm, 
Calvinism), we further describe the divine efficacy as follows: — 

a. The Word of God set forth in Scripture does not operate 
in a natural way, t. e., neither through logical demonstration, ap- 
pealing to reason, nor through rhetorical eloquence, appealing to 
the emotions, but in a supernatural manner (efficientia vere divina), 
inasmuch as the Holy Spirit, who is inseparably combined with the 
Word, persuades the human mind of the divine truth through the 
very Word which it contemplates. This is clearly attested by 
St. Paul, who writes : "My speech and my preaching was ... in 
demonstration of the Spirit and of power," 1 Cor. 2, 4. Quenstedt 
says correctly: "It is the innate power and tendency of God's 
Word always to convince men of its truth." (Verbum Dei vvrtutem 
exercet per contactum hyperphysicum.) 

b. The divine Word of Holy Scripture has infinite, almighty 



power (vis infinita, potentia Dei, omnipotentia) , for the same 
almighty power which is essentially in God is by way of communi- 
cation (communicative) in His Word. This truth is propounded 
in the following Scripture-passages : Rom. 1, 16. 17 : "It is the 
power of God unto salvation" ; Eph. 1, 19. 20 : "Who believe ac- 
cording to the working of His mighty power" ; 2 Cor. 4, 6 : "God, 
who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in 
our hearts [sc., through the Gospel], to give the light of the knowl- 
edge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Baier writes, 
in full agreement with all these passages: "The same infinite 
virtue which is essentially per se and independently in God and by 
which He enlightens and converts men is communicated to the 
Word." (Doctr. Theol, p. 505.) 

c. The divine power which inheres in the Word is not irre- 
sistible, but resistible (efficacia resistibilis) ; that is to say, the 
saving effects of the Word may be withstood though in itself the 
Word is omnipotent, Matt. 23, 37 ; 2 Cor. 4, 3. 4. This resistible 
character of the divine Word Quenstedt describes as follows: 
"Accidentally it may be inefficacious, not from any deficiency of 
power, but by the exercise of perverseness, which hinders its opera- 
tion, so that its effect is not attained." This fact is asserted in 
Acts 7,51, where the apostle addresses the hardened Jews thus: 
"Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always 
resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye." How the 
omnipotent Word of God may be resisted by impotent man is in- 
deed unintelligible to human reason; yet for this we have an 
analog in the realm of nature, where natural life, though it owes 
its origin and existence to God's omnipotent power, may be de- 
stroyed by man's feeble hand. Luther's canon of judgment in this 
matter is correct: "When God works through means, He can be 
resisted 4 ; but when He works without means, in His revealed glory 
(in nuda maiestate), He cannot be resisted." Thus the spiritual 
resurrection, which is effected through the means of grace, Luke 
2, 34; Eph. 2, 1 ; Col. 2, 12, may be resisted, 1 Cor. 1, 23 ; 2 Cor. 
2, 16, while the bodily resurrection, which will be effected by God's 
sovereign command, cannot be resisted, Matt. 25, 31. 32 ; John 
11, 24. 

d. The divine power must never be separated from the Word 
of Scripture; that is to say, the Holy Ghost does not operate 
beside or outside the Word (enthusiasm, Calvinism, Kathmannism 
in the Lutheran Church), but always in and through the Word, 



Eom. 10, 17 ; 1 Pet. 1, 23 ; John 6, 63. This important Scriptural 
truth our Lutheran theologians have always maintained against 
the Reformed (Zwingli: "The Holy Spirit requires no leader or 
vehicle" [dux vel vehiculum] ; Hodge : "Efficacious grace acts 
immediately"). The practical result of the separation of the divine 
power from the divine Word of Scripture is the rejection of the 
Bible as the only source and norm of faith (norma normans). This 
is proved by the very fact that the enthusiasts have invariably 
placed the "inner word" (verbum internum), or the "spirit," above 
Holy Scripture (verbum externum), assigning to the latter an in- 
ferior place in the realm of divine revelation. To the enthusiasts 
the Bible is only a norma normata, or a rule of faith subject to the 
"inner word," that is, to their own notions and figments of reason. 
On the other hand, the practical result of the acceptance of the 
Scriptural doctrine that the Holy Spirit is inseparably united 
with the Word is the absolute subjection of every thought to the 
Word of God, as this is set forth in the Bible, 2 Cor. 10, 5. In this 
case every doctrine which is opposed to Scripture is rejected as 
false, no matter to what source it may be attributed, whether it 
be the "spirit," the "inner word," the "inner light," "reason," 
"science," "the Church," "the Pope," and the like. Unless we 
fully accept the Scriptural doctrine that the Holy Spirit is indis- 
solubly united with the Word of Scripture, we cannot regard this 
precious Book of God as the only source and standard of faith. 
It was for this reason that our Lutheran theologians so strenuously 
defended the inseparable unity of the Word and the Spirit. 
Hollaz writes, for example: "The efficacy of the divine Word is 
not only objective or significative, like the statue of Mercury, for 
instance, which points out the path, but does not give the power or 
strength to the traveler to walk in it; but it is effective, because 
it not only shows the way of salvation, but saves souls." (Doctr. 
Theol, p. 504.) 

Whenever in our Christian prayers we ask God "to give His 
Spirit and power to the Word," we do not imply that at times the 
Spirit is absent from the Word with His divine and effective power, 
but we rather confess by these words that our own human effort 
or skill in applying the Word of God is of no avail whatever, 
1 Cor. 3, 6. Luther in his exposition of Ps. 8, 3, writes on this 
point: "We must put off the foolish confidence that we ourselves 
can effect anything through the Word in the hearts of our hearers ; 
rather should we diligently continue in the prayer that God alone, 



without us, would render mighty and active in the hearers the 
Word which He proclaims through preachers and teachers." (St. L., 
IV, 626.) 

In their controversy with the enthusiasts (Reformed) the Lu- 
theran theologians averred that Holy Scripture is efficacious also 
extra usum. By this phrase they meant to say that the Holy Spirit 
is perpetually connected with the Word, so that it retains its power 
even when not in use. This truth had to be maintained also against 
the Lutheran theologian Rathniann, who contended that the "divine 
efficacy is external to the Word." Against this error the efficacy of 
the Word even when not in use (extra usum) was maintained in 
order that the Word of God might not be reduced to the level of 
human words (cf. Doctr. Theol., p. 507). The statement regard- 
ing the efficacy of the Word of God extra usum was thus used to 
emphasize the Scriptural truth that God's Word is always in itself 
a "power of God unto salvation/* Rom. 1, 16. 

Although the Holy Ghost is always active through the Word, 
we must not judge His activity from feeling (ex sensu). The 
Formula of Concord comments on this point: "Concerning the 
presence, operation, and gift of the Holy Ghost we should not and 
cannot always judge ex sensu, as to how and when they are expe- 
rienced in the heart ; but because they are often covered and occur 
in great weakness, we should be certain from, and according to, 
the promise that the Word of God preached and heard is [truly] 
an office and work of the Holy Ghost, by which He is certainly 
efficacious and works in our hearts, 2 Cor. 2, 14 ff. ; 3, 5ff." (Thor. 
Decl., II, 56.) 

While we ascribe divine efficacy to the entire Word of God as 
set forth in Holy Scripture, we, nevertheless, rightly distinguish 
between the efficacy which is proper to the Law and that which is 
proper to the Gospel. The divine Law has the power to make 
men "guilty before God," Rom. 3, 19, since "by the Law is the 
knowledge of sin," Rom. 3, 20. More than this the Law cannot do ; 
its sphere is the working of contrition (contritio, terrores con- 
scientiae). The Gospel, on the other hand, works faith and so 
regeneration and conversion, Rom. 10, 17 ; 5, 1. However, by this 
very operation it inscribes the divine Law into the heart, Jer. 
31, 31 ff. ; that is to say, it makes man willing to obey the Law 
with a cheerful and ready mind, Ps. 110, 3 ; Rom. 12, 1 ; Gal. 2, 20, 
(Lex praescribit, evangelium inscribit.) Moreover, by this very 
operation it also relieves man from the fear of death and gives him 



power to triumph over this last foe, 1 Cor. 15, 55. Through the 
power of the Gospel the sinner, who by nature is subject to death, 
Heb. 2, 15, and without hope in the world, Eph. 2, 12, is received 
into Christ's Kingdom of Grace, John 3, 16 — 18, and finally into 
His Kingdom of Glory, Phil. 1, 3—6; Eph. 1, 16—19; 1 Pet. 
1, 3—5. 


(Ferfectio Scripturae Sacrae.) 

The divine perfection, or sufficiency, of Holy Scripture is that 
property by which it teaches everything that is necessary for sal- 
vation. Gerhard defines this property of Scripture as follows 
(II, 286) : "The Scriptures fully and perfectly instruct us con- 
cerning all things necessary to salvation." The Scripture proof 
for this doctrine is clearly set forth in 2 Tim. 3, 15 — 17; John 
17,20; 1 John 1,3.4. Since Holy Scripture is sufficient, or per- 
fect, it requires no supplementation either through traditions 
(papists) or new revelations (enthusiasts) or doctrinal progress 
or development (modern rationalistic theologians). The way of 
salvation taught in the Bible is absolutely complete, Matt. 28, 20 ; 
Mark 16, 15. 16. Gerhard, arguing against the Romanists, rightly 
says: "Laying aside tradition, we adhere to Scripture alone." 

When considering the divine sufficiency of Holy Scripture, we 
must carefully observe the following points : — 

a. Holy Scripture does not contain everything which men may 
know; for with regard to matters of earthly concern it offers very 
little instruction (the Bible is not a "text-book of science"). 
Earthly affairs are treated in Scripture only in so far as they 
pertain to the divine counsel of salvation (the creation of the 
world, etc.). 

b. Holy Scripture does not reveal all divine things which man 
might desire to know; for also in the spiritual sphere its proper 
scope is the saving of sinners, 2 Tim. 3, 16 — 18; 1 Cor. 13, 12; 
Rom. 11, 33. 

c. Nevertheless, Holy Scripture contains all things "necessary 
to be known for the Christian faith and life and, therefore, for the* 
attainment of eternal salvation" (Quenstedt). All those who deny 
this truth reject the Schriftprinzip, or the basic Christian doctrine 
that Holy Scripture is the only source and norm of faith. The 
papists make of Scripture a restricted norm (norma remissiva) 
and teach a perfectio implidta Scripturae Sacrae; that is to say,. 



they regard Scripture as sufficient only when its teachings are sup- 
plemented by those of the Church, or the Pope. The papists thus 
degrade Scripture to a norma normata. 

Its holy doctrines, Scripture sets forth either in direct words 
(xard §rjx6v) or according to the sense (xard didvoiav). For the 
first we may cite the express teaching of salvation by grace, through 
faith in Christ, John 3, 16; Rom. 3, 24. 28; for the latter, the 
doctrine of the Holy Trinity, Matt. 28, 20. However, Holy Scrip- 
ture never states mere "general principles" from which the Chris- 
tian theologian or the Christian Church must "develop" the doc- 
trines ; for it is not a book of "general principles," but of doctrines. 
In order that the theologian may be kept from teaching false doc- 
trine, he must constantly bear in mind that he is to teach nothing 
but what Scripture itself teaches in clear words. That is what 
Luther means when he writes : "In the Christian doctrine we must 
not assert anything which Holy Scripture does not teach." (St. L., 
XIX, 592.) Again: "All Christian articles must be of such 
a nature that they are not only certain to the Christians themselves, 
but also are so confirmed by manifest and clear Scripture-passages 
that they can stop the mouths of all [adversaries], so that they 
can say nothing against them." (St. L., XVIII, 1747.) 

(Perspicuitas, Claritas Scripturae Sacrae.) 

When we say that Holy Scripture is perspicuous, or clear, we 
mean that it sets forth all doctrines of salvation in words so simple 
and plain that they can be understood by all persons of average 
intelligence. The Lutheran dogmatician Baier expresses this 
thought as follows : "Any man acquainted with the language, pos- 
sessed of a common judgment, and paying due attention to the 
words may learn the true sense of the words . . . and embrace the 
fundamental doctrines." The perspicuity of Scripture is definitely 
taught in clear passages : Ps. 119, 105. 130 ; 19, 7. 8 ; 2 Pet. 1, 19 ; 
2 Tim. 3, 15. In addition to this, it is presupposed in all those 
passages in which all men are exhorted to search the Scriptures 
for salvation, John 5,39; Luke 16,29; Acts 17,11; 2 Thess. 
2, 15; Is. 34, 16; 1 John 2, 13. 14. Whoever, therefore, rejects 
the perspicuity of the Bible (papists, enthusiasts, modern ration- 
alistic theologians) must also reject the basic truth that Scripture 
is the only principium cognoscendi, thus compelling the Christian 
believer to base his faith upon the human expositions either of the 
Church or of individual Bible scholars. 



Keeping in mind that Holy Scripture is a clear book, the 
Christian exegete must scrupulously refrain from foisting upon its 
sacred text his own subjective views (eisegesis) and regard it as his 
sole function to exhibit the true meaning of God's clear Word 
(exegesis: the leading forth of the sense of Scripture) ; in other 
words, he must allow Scripture to interpret itself. (Scriptura 
Scripturam inter pretatur; Scriptura sua luce radiat.) Negatively 
the function of the Christian exegete may be described as the re- 
moval of all textual difficulties by proper grammatical instruction 
and of all misinterpretations by erring expositors; positively, as 
the exhibition of the true sense of the text (manductio ad nudam 
Scripturam) in the light of its context and parallel passages. 

Hence a true Christian exegete must possess the following 
qualifications: a) He must regard the whole Bible as the in- 
errant Word of God; b) he must treat Holy Scripture as a book 
which is clear in itself; c) he must conscientiously point out 
the real sense of the text; and d) he must be able to refute the 
erroneous human opinions which false teachers or misguided or- 
thodox theologians have foisted upon the text. 

With regard to the perspicuity of Holy Scripture we may 
yet observe the following points : — 

a. Holy Scripture is preeminently clear with respect to those 
things that are necessary for salvation. We readily admit that 
Scripture contains passages which are more or less obscure not 
only to the average Christian, but also the Christian theologian. 
But this fact does not disprove the doctrine of the perspicuity of 
the Bible. The passages which in themselves are obscure do not 
set forth fundamental articles of the Christian faith, but per- 
tain, as our dogmaticians have said, commonly to "onomastic, 
chronological, topographical, allegorical, typical, or prophetical 
matters" (Quenstedt). Of the passages which propound doctrines 
some are less clear than others or, as Gerhard remarks : "What is 
obscurely expressed in one passage is more clearly explained in 
others," and in all such cases the more obscure must be intepreted 
in the light of the clear (sedes doctrinae; analogia fidei). But 
also this fact does not disprove the doctrine of Biblical perspicuity. 
In his exposition on Ps. 37 Luther comments very aptly : "But if 
any one of them (the papists) should trouble you and say: TTou 
must have the interpretation of the Fathers, since Scripture is 
obscure/ then you must reply : 'It is not true. There is no clearer 
book upon earth than is Holy Writ, which in comparison with all 



other books is like the sun in its relation to all other lights/ They 
say such things only because they want to lead us away from Scrip- 
ture and elevate themselves to the position of masters over us in 
order that we might believe their dream sermons, . . . For that is 
indeed true : Some passages in Scripture are obscure, but in these 
you find nothing but what is found in other places and in clear and 
plain passages. Then came the heretics and explained the obscure 
passages according to their own reasonings, and with these they 
combated the clear passages and foundation of faith. So the 
Fathers fought them with the clear passages, and with them they 
shed light upon the obscure, proving in this way that what is said 
obscurely in some passages is set forth clearly in others. Do not 
permit yourselves to be led out of, and away from, Scripture, no 
matter how hard they [the papists] may try. For if you step out 
of Scripture, you are lost; then they will lead you just as they 
wish. But if you remain in Scripture, you have won the victory 
and you will regard their raging in no other way than when the 
crag of the sea smiles at the waves and billows. All their writings 
are nothing else than waves that rock to and fro. Be assured and 
certain that there is nothing clearer than the sun, I mean, Holy 
Scripture. If a cloud drifts before it, nothing else than the same 
clear sun is nevertheless behind it. If then you find an obscure 
passage in Scripture, do not be alarmed, for surely the same 
truth is set forth in it which in another place is taught plainly. 
So if you cannot understand the obscure, then cling to the clear." 
(St. L., V, 334ff.) These defiant statements of Luther reecho 
the clear truths which Holy Scripture itself teaches concerning 
its perspicuity, Ps. 119, 105; 2 Pet. 1, 19f. (Cf. also Luther's 
defense of the perspicuity of Scripture in his famous work De 
Servo Arbitrio. St.L., XVIII, 1681 ff.) 

b. The perspicuity of Scripture must not be identified with 
comprehensibility of its mysteries of faith (perspicuitas rerum). 
The very doctrines which we must believe for our salvation, for 
instance, the incarnation of Christ, the Holy Trinity, the per- 
sonal union of the two natures in Christ, the atonement through 
Christ's vicarious suffering and death, etc., will always remain 
unintelligible to human reason (res inevidentes). But these in- 
comprehensible mysteries of our faith are set forth in words so 
intelligible (perspicuitas verborum) that every person of ordinary 
intelligence who understands human speech can receive them into 
his mind (apprehensio simplex) and through the supernatural 



operation of the Holy Ghost can apprehend them also spiritually 
(apprehensio spirituals sive practica). For this reason our Lu- 
theran dogmaticians have called the perspicuity of Scripture 
a claritas verborum, or claritas externa, or claritas grammatica, etc. 
On this point Gerhard quotes Luther (1, 26), who writes: "If you 
speak of the internal clearness, no man understands a single iota 
in the Scriptures by the natural powers of his mind unless he has 
the Spirit of God; for all men [by nature] have obscure hearts. 
The Holy Spirit is required for the understanding of the whole of 
Scripture and of all its parts. If you refer to the external clear- 
ness of Scripture, there is nothing that is left obscure or am- 
biguous, but all things brought to light in the Word are per- 
fectly clear." (Doctr. Theol., p. 73.) The whole doctrine of the 
•clearness of Scripture may be summed up as follows: Scripture 
is clear externally (claritas verborum) to all men of sound minds, 
internally (claritas spiritudlis) only to believers, and essentially 
{claritas rerum, the understanding of the mysteries of the faith) 
only to the saints in heaven, 1 Cor. 13, 12. 

From all this it is obvious to whom Holy Scripture must 
remain an obscure book, namely, to all — 

a. Who understand neither human speech in general nor 
Scriptural speech in particular; 

b. Who are so filled with prejudice that they refuse to give 
the words of Scripture honest consideration; 

c. Who foolishly endeavor to comprehend the divine mysteries 
by means of their blind reason; 

d. Who are filled with enmity against the divine truths which 
Scripture teaches, Ps. 18, 26 ; John 8, 43 — 47 ; 2 Cor. 4, 3. 4. This 
explains why so many errorists arrogantly reject Holy Scripture as 
an obscure book. "Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work 
in vain." (Cowper.) 

"Blind unbelief" has also suggested the objections which have 
been preferred against the perspicuity of Holy Scripture. Among 
these we may note the following : — 

a. The institution of the holy ministry. Answer: Christ did 
indeed institute the public ministry, not, however, to render the 
Bible clear, but to preach the Gospel, which the Bible propounds 
so clearly, Mark 16, 15. 16 ; Matt. 28, 19. 20, and by this means to 
guide men to heaven, Heb. 13, 17; Ezek. 3, 18. 

b. The dissensions and factions within the visible Christian 



Church. Answer: These, alas! exist, but only because men insist 
on rejecting the clear doctrines of Scripture, John 8, 31. 32; 
1 Tim. 6, 3 f . 

c. Olscure passages occur in Scripture. Answer: Such pas- 
sages do not disprove the perspicuity of Scripture since the doc- 
trines of salvation are taught with great clarity. St. Augustine 
rightly says: "In the clear passages of Scripture everything is 
found that is necessary for faith and life." 

d. The unintelligible mysteries of the faith. Answer: These 
mysteries are indeed beyond the grasp of human reason, but they 
are taught in language so plain that it is intelligible even to 
a normal child. 

e. Special passages of Scripture allegedly admit its obscurity. 
Passages such as 2 Pet. 3, 16 and 1 Cor. 13, 12 have been pointed 
out by those who deny the perspicuity of Scripture. Answer: 
St. Peter declares that among the things which St. Paul writes in 
his epistles (lv ah) there are some that are hard to be understood 
(dvovdr/Ta). Holy Scripture indeed contains many things which 
admittedly are "hard to be understood." However, this does not 
disprove its perspicuity; for wherever it teaches the way of sal- 
vation, it is perfectly clear. 

In 1 Cor. 13, 12 St. Paul does not speak of Holy Scripture, 
but of our knowledge of God and divine truth, which now is me- 
diate and imperfect, but which in heaven will be immediate and 
perfect. Hence also this passage does not disprove the perspicuity 
of Scripture. 

The perspicuity of Scripture is denied both by the papists 
("The Scriptures are not of themselves clear and intelligible even 
in matters of the highest importance." Cardinal Gibbons, The 
Faith of Our Fathers, p. Ill) and the enthusiasts. The papists 
claim that the Scriptures must be interpreted by the Church, or 
the Pope, while the enthusiasts assert that they must be expounded 
by means of the "inner light." In the last analysis both papists 
and enthusiasts resort to human reason to expound Scripture, 
just as modern rationalists do, who aver that the Bible must be 
interpreted in the light of modern intelligence. In all three 
cases the charge against God^s holy and clear Book of salvation 
is prompted by deliberate opposition to the blessed Gospel of 
Christ, 1 Cor. 1, 22. 23. 




(De Deo.) 


(Notitia Dei Naturalis.) 

Whatever man knows of God he knows through God's own 
revelation of Himself either in the realm of nature or in the realm 
of grace, that is to say, either through God's work of creation and 
providence or through His holy Book, the Bible. Hence we rightly 
speak of a natural knowledge of God and of a supernatural or 
revealed (Christian) knowledge of God. Had God not revealed 
Himself, man never would have known Him, since God is the 
absolute, perfect Personality, who dwells "in the light which no 
man can approach unto," 1 Tim. 6, 16. 

By means of his natural knowledge of God, man knows that 
there is a personal, eternal, omnipotent Divine Being, who has 
created this world and still preserves and rules all things and who 
is holy and just, demanding what is good and punishing what is 
evil. This natural knowledge of God is mediated to man — 

a. By God's created works {noifiiAma deov, creaturae Dei), 
which in themselves bear witness to their omnipotent Creator. In 
Eom. 1, 20 St. Paul attests that, though God Himself is invisible, 
man nevertheless knows of Him and, in particular, of His person- 
ality, eternity, omnipotence, and sovereignty "by the things that 
are made." That this is true is proved by the testimony of many 
heathen philosophers, as, for example, by Aristotle and Cicero. 
Cicero writes (Tuscul. Dispute I, 28) : "Deum non vides; tamen 
Deus agnoscis ex operibus eius" This natural knowledge of God 
is so certain that the apostle says of all agnostics and atheists, 
who deny His divine existence and commands, that "they are with- 
out excuse." (The cosmological proof of God's existence.) 

b. By God's continued operation in the realm of nature and 
of human history. In Acts 14, 15 — 17 St. Paul asserts that God 
"left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave 
rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food 
and gladness." The knowledge which man gains from God's con- 
tinued self-manifestation in human history is described by the 
apostle in Acts 17, 26 — 28, where he declares that God has made 
and governs all men in such a manner "that they should seek the 
Lord" and that "in Him we live and move and have our being" in 



such a way that even the heathen poets have professed: "We are 
also His offspring." (The historical proof of God's existence.) 

c. By the divine Law written in the heart of man. By means 
-of this Law, men **know the judgment of God," Rom. 1, 32, and 
without the revealed Law "do by nature the things contained in 
the Law," "their conscience also bearing witness and their thoughts 
the mean while accusing or else excusing one another," Rom. 2, 
14. 15. (The moral proof of God's existence.) 

In view of these facts the antitheistic theories held by men 
are not the results of sound reasoning, but rather the effects of 
man's perverse, wilful suppression of the natural knowledge of God, 
which He has implanted into the human heart, Rom. 1, 18. They 
do not represent progress in human religious thought, but rather 
spiritual and moral decadence. 

Atheism denies God's existence, although by nature man has 
a distinct knowledge of God, Rom. 1, 19 ; Ps. 14, 1. Polytheism 
divides God into many divine entities, although the knowledge 
which man by nature has of God is monotheistic (Rom. 1, 20 : "His 
-eternal power"). Hylozoism endues matter with life and denies 
that God is the extramundane and supramundane Ruler and Judge 
of men, though by nature man knows "the judgment of God," 
Rom. 1, 32. Materialism denies the reality of spirit and ignores 
the distinction between matter and mind, so that there is in mate- 
rialism no God and no human soul and no immortality, but only 
persistence of matter and force. Pantheism is the doctrine that 
God is all and all is God, so that nothing exists outside of God. 
Deism admits that there is a personal God, who has created the 
world and has impressed upon it the laws that govern it, but it 
teaches that after this, God withdrew from the world and left it 
to the reign of natural laws. Pessimism regards the world and life 
as essentially evil and holds that the world, if not the worst that 
it can be, is at least sufficiently evil to be worse than none at all. 
Atheistic evolution denies the existence of God, asserts the eternity 
of matter and force, and attributes the development of the cosmos 
to purely natural forces (Keyser). Theistic evolution holds that 
God created the primordial material and that evolution has since 
been His modus operandi in developing it to its present status. 
Agnosticism maintains that we cannot know whether there is a God 
or not. Positivism teaches that we can know only phenomena, but 
not noumena, or the essence of things. Hence it is agnostic in 
regard to God, the soul, and the substance of things. 

All these anti-Biblical theories are in opposition to the natural 



knowledge of God which Holy Scripture very clearly and emphati- 
cally ascribes to man, Rom. 1, 19. 20. 32 ; 2, 14. 15. 

The natural knowledge of God is true as far as it goes, Rom. 
1, 18, for what it teaches of God's personality, eternity, omnipo- 
tence, sovereignty, holiness, and righteousness agrees with revealed 
religion. Innate (notitia innata) though it is (Rom. 2, 14. 15 : 
"A law unto themselves" ; "the work of the Law written in their 
hearts"), it can nevertheless be expanded and further confirmed 
(notitia acquisita) by the contemplation of the works and ways of 
God in nature and history, Acts 17, 27. 28, though it may also be 
corrupted and changed into error (antitheistic theories) through 
the moral depravity existing in man, Rom. 1, 18. 

The natural knowledge of God is of great benefit to man be- 
cause it is the foundation of the civil righteousness (iustitia civilis), 
Rom. 2, 14; Acts 17, 27, of natural man, and the starting-point for 
the proclamation of the revealed Law by Christian missionaries. 
Luther rightly declares that, had God not written the Law into 
man's heart, we would have to preach a long time before man's 
conscience would be smitten. (St. L., Ill, 1053.) When St. Paul 
preached the Word of God to the Athenian philosophers, he began 
by appealing to their natural knowledge of God, Acts 17, 23 — 29. 

The natural knowledge of God is of great value also because 
upon the basis of it man constructs the so-called rational proofs for 
God's existence to combat unbelief. Thus the ontological proof 
argues from the existence of the idea of God in man to the actuality 
of His existence. The cosmological proof concludes that the world 
must have a First Cause back of all the secondary causes that are 
operative in nature. The teleological proof argues from the design 
and purpose which are everywhere evident in nature. The moral 
proof argues from the existence of our moral constitution to the 
existence of a Supreme Moral Being. The historical proof draws 
from the history of man the conclusion that there is a divine Ruler 
who guides all affairs of the world to an end which He has in view. 
The theological proof argues God's existence from the fact that the 
idea of God need never be explained to men, since all men in the 
world know who is meant by that term. Hence the natural knowl- 
edge of God must not be underestimated, since God has bestowed 
it upon man to govern him in His Kingdom of Power (in regno 
potentiae), holds him accountable for his attitude toward it, Rom. 
1, 18 — 32, and rewards his respecting and obeying it with temporal 
blessings, Ex. 1, 20. 21. 




In spite of all this, however, the natural knowledge of God is 
not sufficient to secure man's salvation. Quenstedt writes on this 
point (I, 261) : "The natural knowledge of God is not adequate to 
secure everlasting life, nor has any mortal ever been redeemed, nor 
can any one ever be redeemed, by it alone," Acts 4, 12; Rom. 
10,17; Mark 16, 15. 16; Gal. 3, 11; Eph.4,18; 2,12; Gal. 4, 8. 
{Doctr. Theol., p. 110.) Since the natural knowledge of God does 
not embrace the Gospel, 1 Cor. 2, 7 — 10, but only the Law, Rom. 2, 
14. 15, its practical result is nothing more than a guilty conscience, 
Rom. 1, 20; 2, 15, fear of death, Heb. 2, 15, the state of con- 
demnation, Gal. 3, 10, and utter hopelessness, Eph. 2, 12. Man by 
nature knows that there is a just and holy God, Rom. 1, 21, but not 
that the eternal demands of His perfect justice have been satisfied 
by the vicarious satisfaction of Christ, 1 Cor. 1, 21. In addition, 
while man by nature knows that there is a God, he does not know 
who this true God is, 1 Cor. 1, 21; Acts 17, 24. 25; Matt. 
28, 19. 20. 

While man's natural knowledge of God coincides in some 
points with the supernatural, or revealed, knowledge of God 
(articuli mixti), the Christian theologian bases all that he teaches 
of God alone on Holy Scripture, because this is the only divinely 
appointed source and norm of faith (principium cognoscendi). 
It alone teaches the precious Gospel-truths of God, by which man 
is saved (articuli pari). The Lutheran dogmatician Chemnitz 
writes of this {Loci Theol., I, 22) : "The saving knowledge of God, 
through which we obtain eternal life, is that revealed through the 
Word, in which God makes known Himself and His will. To this 
revelation God has bound His Church, which knows, worships, and 
glorifies God only as He has revealed Himself in this Word, so that 
in this way the true and only Church of God may be distinguished 
from all heathen religions." {Doctr. Theol., p. 111.) 

The Christian knowledge of God, which we obtain from Holy 
Scripture, and from no other source, is not only theistic, but also 
Trinitarian; that is, the Christian believer knows and worships 
God only as the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three 
distinct persons in one inseparable essence. This Christian knowl- 
edge of God is not a mere supplement to man's natural knowledge 
of God, but an entirely new revelation, by which man is enabled to 
know God truly and fully, Matt. 28, 19. 20; 1 Cor. 8, 4—6, and to 
w r orship Him by true faith as his Savior, Is. 41, 14; 42, 5 — 8; 
43,1—3.10—12; 44,1—8; 45,20—25. 



For this reason every Christian description of God must in- 
corporate also the Holy Trinity ; that is to say, whenever a Chris- 
tian theologian describes God, he must describe Him as the one 
God who is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Calov is right when 
he says (II, 282) : "Those who do not include a statement of the 
three Persons in the description of God do not present that doc- 
trine in a form at all genuine or complete, since without these it 
does not yet appear who the true God is." (Doctr. Theol., p. 117.) 


According to Holy Scripture, God is one in essence, but in 
this one essence there are three distinct Persons, Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost. This is the Christian doctrine of God. (Luther: 
Scriptura Sancta docet esse Deum simplicissime unum et tres, ut 
vocant, personas verissime distinetas" (St. L., X, 176f.) This 
doctrine of Scripture the Christian Church expresses by the term 

That God is one in essence, though three in person, Holy 
Scripture teaches distinctly; its doctrine of God in both the Old 
and the New Testament is exclusively monotheistic. According to 
Scripture, God is one, and besides this one God there is no God. 
(Deut. 6, 4: "Hear, Israel: the Lord, our God, is one Lord"; 
1 Cor. 8, 4: "There is none other God but one") All idols of the 
heathen Holy Scripture designates as "non-gods," Jer. 2, 11; 
"vanities," Lev. 19, 4, or as things which are wholly without 

real existence. Cp. the descriptions of idols in Is. 44, 6 — 20 ; Jer. 2, 
26—28; Ps. 115, 1—9; 135,15—17. In the New Testament 
St. Paul writes with equal emphasis : "An idol is nothing in the 
world," 1 Cor. 8, 4, and from this he draws the basic Christian doc- 
trine : "But to us there is but one God," 1 Cor. 8, 6. 

With the paramount truth of God's existence Holy Scripture 
immediately connects the demand of divine adoration. The one 
true God, who has revealed Himself in His Word, must be adored 
and served by all men. (Ex. 20, 3 : "Thou shalt have no other 
gods before me"; Mark 12, 29. 30 : "And Jesus answered him, The 
first of all the commandments is, Hear, Israel: The Lord, our 
God, is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all 
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with 
all thy strength.") As polytheism eliminates the very concept of 
God, so also it destroys true worship. Hence, if the heathen would 
worship God, they must turn from their idols to the true God. 



(Acts 14, 15 : "Ye should turn from these vanities, &nb xovxcov 
Tcbv juaralcov, unto the living God.") 

However, while Holy Scripture most earnestly inculcates the 
doctrine of God's unity, it teaches at the same time that the one 
God is the Holy Trinity, When Christ sent forth His disciples to 
teach all nations, He expressly commanded them to baptize "in 
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," 
Matt. 28, 19. However, "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" are desig- 
nations of three persons; hence the Christian Church teaches, on 
the basis of Scripture: "God is one, and yet in the one divine 
essence are three distinct persons." ("Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, three distinct persons in one divine essence and nature, are 
one God, who has created heaven and earth," Smalcdld Art., First 
Part.) As Holy Scripture connects with the doctrine of the unity 
of God the demand that this one God must be worshiped, so also 
it demands that the one true God should be adored as the Holy 
Trinity. In other words, not one Person of the Godhead should be 
worshiped, but all three. (1 John 2,23: "Whosoever denieth the 
Son, the same hath not the Father"; 5, 12 : "He that hath not the 
Son hath not life" ; John 5, 23 : "All men should honor the Son 
even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son 
honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him.") On the basis of 
this clear doctrine of Scripture the Apology of the Augsburg Con- 
fession affirms (Art. I) : "We declare that we believe and teach 
that there is one divine essence, undivided, etc., and yet, that there 
are three distinct persons, of the same divine essence and coeternal, 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This article we have always taught 
and defended, and we believe that it has, in Holy Scripture, sure 
and firm testimonies that cannot be overthrown. And we con- 
stantly affirm that those thinking otherwise are outside the Church 
of Christ and are idolaters and insult God." 

In order that we may hold to the pure Scriptural doctrine 
concerning the Holy Trinity, we must maintain, on the basis of 
Scripture, that each Person in the Godhead is the entire God ( totus 
Deus), or that each Person has the whole divine essence without 
division or multiplication (sine divisione et multiplications) . "Of 
these Persons each one is the whole God, besides whom there is no 
other God." Luther. By the expression sine divisione we mean to 
say that the divine essence with its attributes is not divided among 
the three Persons, so that the Father has one-third, the Son one- 
third, and the Holy Ghost one-third, but that each Person has the 



whole divine essence entire and undivided. This is not a "dog- 
matical construction," but Scriptural doctrine. Col. 2, 3 : "In 
whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" ; 2, 9 : 
"In Him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." 
By the expression sine multiplications we declare that there are 
not three distinct sets, or series, of divine attributes, so that the 
Father has one set, the Son another, and the Holy Ghost a third, 
but that the one and same essence with all its divine attributes 
belongs to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, according to 
number (numero, secundum numerum), not merely according to 
kind (specie). Of men it must be said that there are as many 
essences as there are persons (quot personae, tot essentiae), but of 
God, Holy Scripture testifies that the three Persons of the Godhead 
have one and the same essence with all its attributes numerically. 
Tres personae, una essentia divina, individua, unus Deus. This 
sublime truth Holy Scripture teaches in the following passages: 
John 10, 30 : "I and My Father are one (ev)"; John 5, 17 : "My 
Father worketh hitherto, and I work"; 5,19: "The Son can do 
nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do; for what 
things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise"; 10, 37 : 
"If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not." This truth 
the Creed of Athanasius professes as follows: "We worship one 
God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the 
Persons nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of 
the Father; another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. 
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost 
is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the 
Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. ... So like- 
wise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost 
almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Al- 
mighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy 
Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. . . . 
And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is 
greater or less than another; but the whole three Persons are 
coeternal together and coequal: so that in all things, as is afore- 
said, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be wor- 
shiped." (Triglot, p. 33.) 

The Scriptural doctrine of the Holy Trinity is absolutely in- 
comprehensible to the human mind ; for on the basis of Scripture 
we profess one undivided and indivisible God, so that each Person 
is the entire God (totus Deus); and yet three really distinct Per- 



eons, so that, when the Son became incarnate, He alone became 
man and not the Father or the Holy Ghost, and when the Son 
suffered and died, He alone suffered and died and not the Father 
or the Holy Ghost. This truth is beyond reason, for according to 
reason the Unity annuls the Trinity and the Trinity the Unity, 
In other words, human reason must assume either one God or three 
Gods. It cannot reconcile Unity with Trinity nor Trinity with 
Unity. Consequently all errorists on this point have denied either 
the Unity or the Trinity. 


The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity has been strenu- 
ously controverted, on the one hand, by errorists who denied the 
three Persons (Monarchians, Unitarians, Antitrinitarians) and, on 
the other, by errorists who denied the one essence (Tritheites). 
The Monarchians may be divided into two classes : the Moddlistic 
Monarchians, or Patripassians, known in the East as Sabellians, 
who held that the three Persons of the Trinity are but three dif- 
ferent energies or modes of the same divine person, so that the Son 
and the Holy Ghost are but different manifestations (ngdacona) 
of the Father; and the Dynamic Monarchians, or Adoptionists, 
who held that the Son was a mere man and the Holy Ghost the 
Father's divine energy in the creatures (Paul of Samosata, Pho- 
tinians, Arians, Socinians, Unitarians, Modernists). In opposition 
to Monarchianism, which denies the three distinct Persons, the 
Christian Church holds that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not 
/ three modes or energies of one person, but three distinct persons, 
\ or individuals. This truth is proved a) by the very terms Father, 
/ Son, and Holy Ghost, which never designate qualities or energies 
J inhering in a person, but always Persons subsisting of them- 
\ selves. (Augsb. Conf., Art. I: "And the term person they use as 
the Fathers have used it, to signify not a part or quality in another, 
but that wh ichsubsists of itself.") This truth is also proved b) by 
the personal works of the Individual Persons, such as speaking, will- 
ing, reproving, etc., which Scripture ascribes not only to the Father, 
but also to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. (Actiones semper sunt 
suppositorum intelligentium, . . . opera sunt personis propria.) 
To the Son Scripture ascribes the acts of knowing, Matt. 11, 27, of 
declaring, John 1, 18, of willing, John 17, 24, etc. ; to the Holy 
Ghost it ascribes the acts of speaking, Acts 28,25, of teaching, 



John 14, 26, of reproving, John 16, 8, etc. This truth is further- 
more proved c) by express passages of Scripture in which the 
Father is called another (SiXXos) than the Son, John 5, 32. 37, or in 
which the Holy Ghost is called another (&XXog) than the Son, 
John 14, 16. 

As the Monarchians deny the three Persons of the Godhead, 
so other errorists deny the unity of God and teach three distinct 
divine essences in place of the one undivided and indivisible divine 
essence. Of these errorists the Tritheites coordinate the three es- 
sences, while the Subordinationists subordinate them, ascribing to 
the Father priority of essence. All Subordinationists deny the one 
true God and teach polytheism ; for since they affirm that the Son 
and the Holy Ghost are "God in a lesser degree" than is the Father, 
they assume three distinct divine essences, or three gods, of whom 
one is the supreme Lord, while the others are inferior deities. In 
opposition to this error the Christian Church teaches that the three 
Persons in the one Godhead are fully coordinate, that is, that they 
are God in the same manner and the same degree, because the 
divine essence, which is numerically one (una numero divina es- 
sentia), belongs to each Person entire and undivided. This doc- 
trine rests upon clear and decisive Scripture-passages. In Matt. 
28, 19 three distinct and entirely coordinate Persons are described 
as having the same name (ovojua). Again, to the Son and to the 
Holy Ghost are ascribed a) the same divine names as to the Father, 
including the nomen essentiale et incommunicabile nin* (the Son : 
Jer. 23, 6 ; John 1, 1 ; the Holy Ghost : 2 Sam. 23, 2 ; Acts 5, 3. 4) ; 

b) the same divine attributes, such as eternity, omnipotence, omnis- 
cience, omnipresence, goodness, mercy, etc. (the Son: Col. 1,17; 
John 10,28; John 21,19; Matt. 28, 20; 2 Cor. 13, 14; the Holy 
Ghost: Heb. 9, 14; Is. 11, 2; 1 Cor. 2, 10—12; Ps. 139, 7); 

c) the same divine works, such as creation, preservation, mir- 
acles, etc. (the Son: John 1,1—3; Col. 1,16; John 5,17; 6,39; 
the Holy Ghost: Ps. 33, 6; Job 33,4; Acts 10,38); d) divine 
adoration and worship (the Son : John 5, 23 ; Phil. 2, 10 ; the Holy 
Ghost: Is. 6, 3; 2 Cor. 13, 14; Num. 6, 26). Thus the true deity 
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is strenuously affirmed in 

Hence whenever the Father is called the First, the Son the 
Second, and the Holy Ghost the Third Person of the Godhead, 
this does not denote any subordination or any inequality in respect 
to time (tempore) or dignity (natura vel dignitate), but merely in- 



dicates the Scriptural truth that the Son is from the Father, John 
1, 14, and the Holy Ghost from the Father and Son, Matt. 10, 20; 
Gal. 4, 6. Or we may say this order of enumeration shows the 
divine mode in which the Three Persons subsist in the Godhead 
(modus subsistendi). But that the Son was generated from the 
Father does not render Him inferior to the Father, nor does the 
spiration of the Holy Ghost render the Spirit inferior to the Father 
and the Son, because the divine generation and spiration are 
eternal acts, or timeless processes, by which the Son and the Holy 
Ghost, together with the Father, possess the same divine essence 
and majesty. The Creed of Athanasius declares : "In this Trinity 
none is before or after other; none is greater or less than an- 
other; but the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and 
coequal : so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, 
and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped." When Christ says 
of Himself: "The Father is greater than I," John 14, 28, He 
speaks of Himself according to His human nature in His state of 
humiliation. Athanasius: Aequalis Patri secundum divinitatem, 
minor Patre secundum humanitatem. The fact that the Father 
was "greater" than the Son in the latter's state of humiliation 
ceased when Christ was exalted, John 14, 28; Eph. 1, 20 — 23; 
Phil. 2, 9—11. 

Again, when Scripture says that God created the world by 
the Son, Heb. 1, 2 ; John 1, 3, it teaches by no means any subordi- 
nation of the Son to the Father, but rather the divine mode of 
operation (modus operandi) ad extra. For as the Son is of the 
Father, so also His operation is from the Father, while that of the 
Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, the 
divine operation remains one according to number (una numero 
potentia) and belongs to each Person entire, so that it is not dis- 
tributed among the Three Persons. For this reason Holy Scrip- 
ture sometimes ascribes the whole work of creation to one single 
Person without naming the others. (Creation ascribed to the Son 
John 1,1—3; Heb. 1,10.) Gerhard writes (IV, 4): "But that 
one true God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; therefore in Scrip- 
ture the work of creation is ascribed to the Father and to the Son 
and to the Holy Ghost. Of the Father it is affirmed 1 Cor. 8, 6 ; of 
the Son, John 1, 3; Col. 1, 16; of the Holy Ghost, Job 26, 13; 
33,4; Ps. 104,30. We conclude therefore that creation is an un- 
divided action of the one and true God alone, namely, of the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." (Doctr. Theol, p. 162.) And 



Hollaz writes: "In Holy Scripture and the Apostles' Creed the 
work of creation is ascribed in a peculiar manner to God the Father 
a) because of the order of working: for this reason that what the 
Father has of Himself to do and to create the Son of God and the 
Holy Ghost have of the Father; b) because in the work of crea- 
tion God the Father by His most efficacious word of command 
manifested His own omnipotence, Gen. 1, 3; c) because creation is 
the first work ad extra and therefore, by appropriation, is affirmed 
of the First Person of the Godhead." (Ibid.) 


The question has been debated whether such terms as are not 
found in Scripture may be used when a doctrine of the Christian 
religion is presented or taught, e. g., the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity. In reply to this question we say that all terms which ex- 
press the clear doctrine of God as revealed in Scripture should be 
used without fear, especially those in which the Christian Church 
defends the divine truth against error. Furthermore, it must be 
affirmed that all who believe as the Church does should also speak 
as the Church. Those who needlessly or frivously invent new 
terms not only confuse the Church by new and unaccustomed ex- 
pressions, but also expose themselves to the suspicion that they seek 
their own glory and endeavor to introduce new and erroneous doc- 
trines. Hence the use of new terms in the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity must be discouraged. 

Against Monarchianism, on the one hand, and Tritheism, on 
the other, the Christian Church teaches that there are three Per- 
sons in one essence ( tres personae in una essentia, tqu$ vnooxdaeig 
xal fxia ovoid). Against Arianism, in particular, which affirmed 
that the loyog is a creature of God (xiioig, noirjjua), the Nicene 
Council declared that the Son is "of one substance" with the Father 
(o/uoovotog, coessentialis, consubstantialis) . The meaning of these 
terms is not that the Son is of like essence with the Father 
(p/Aoiovoiog, unius essentiae specie), but that the one and same 
essence, which exists but once in God, is alike that of the Father 
and of the Son (unius essentiae numero), so that the Son is "God 
of God" and "very God of very God." This doctrine is truly Scrip- 
tural, John 10, 30. 

The word essence (ovoia, essentia), used of God, signifies the 
divine nature with all its attributes, which exists but once (singu- 



laris) in the Three Persons (una numero essentia). "By the term 
essence, or ovola, is meant the divine nature as it is in itself, all 
of which, with its attributes, is most simply one and singular, and 
thus also of the Three Persons the essence is only one." (Baier.) 
The term essence is therefore applied to God in a unique sense. 
When we apply it to men, namely, to denote something which is 
common to all men, the word is used as a generic term (nomen 
universale) or as an abstract noun (nomen dbstractum), which 
denotes something that does not exist concretely, but is merely ab- 
stracted from the concretely existing human beings. (Ex.: It is 
the essence of man to think or to will.) However, when we speak 
of the divine essence which is common to the Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost, the term essence is neither generic nor abstract, but 
concrete (nomen concretum), denoting something that exists ac- 
tually and concretely and belongs to the three divine Persons as 
one in number (numero). In other words, the term essence denotes 
God Himself as He divinely exists as One in Three. "The essence 
of God is God's spiritual and independent nature, common to the 
three divine Persons." (Hollaz.) 

By the term person (persona, vnooxaoig) we understand in the 
realm of human thought an individual and rational being existing 
by itself (suppositum intelligent). Thus all men and angels are 
persons. But also this term, when used of God, is applied in 
a unique sense; for when we say that the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost are three persons (personae, vnoordoeig, ngoocona), we, on 
the one hand, reject the erroneous opinion that there are three 
qualities or energies (Potenzen) and affirm that they are three 
rational individuals; yet, on the other hand, we deny that the 
Three Persons are three distinct essences, or three distinct Gods, 
and affirm that, while they are three rational individuals, so that 
the Father is not the Son nor the Son the Holy Ghost, neverthe- 
less, the Three Persons have only one and the same divine essence 
in number (una numero essentia) and exert only one and the same 
power ad extra (una numero potentia). Hence, while the Three 
Persons are distinguished from one another not merely notionally 
(notiondliter), but really (realiter), they are in essence numer- 
ically one. When we speak of men, the axiom applies: As many 
persons, so many essences (Quot personae, tot essentiae); but when 
we speak of God this axiom does not apply, since there are three 
distinct divine Persons, and yet there is only one divine Essence, 
or God. 



With respect to the term Trinity, Luther admitted that it does 
not "sound well so to call God" ; but he adds that, since the article 
of the Holy Trinity is so far beyond our human mind and language, 
•God must pardon us if we stammer and prattle about it as well 
as we can, provided only that our faith is pure and right; for 
the term Trinity merely expresses the truth that God is three in 
person and one in divine essence. From this it is clear that the 
term Trinity, just as the other terms used in explaining the doc- 
trine of God, has not been coined to satisfy reason, but only to 
express the doctrine of Scripture concerning the true God. Human 
reason, when judging the Christian doctrine of God, must choose 
either between Unitarianism or Tritheism ; in other words, it must 
either deny the three divine Persons (Monarchianism) or the one 
divine essence (Tritheism; Subordinationism). For this reason 
the Christian theologian must a priori desist from presenting the 
doctrine of the Holy Trinity in such a way as to make it compre- 
hensible to reason. Every attempt of this kind involves either 
a self-deception, i. e., the supposition that things have been ex- 
plained which cannot be explained, or a surrender of the Christian 
doctrine of God. Nevertheless, though the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity is beyond reason, it is not against reason or self-contra- 
dictory, since Unity is not predicated of God in the same relation 
as Trinity. A real contradiction would exist only if the Christian 
doctrine would affirm : "There is one essence, and there are three 
essences ; there is one person, and there are three persons." How- 
ever, the Christian doctrine of God is : "There is one divine essence, 
and there are three divine Persons." 

With respect to the relation of the Three Persons to one an- 
other the Christian Church teaches as follows: The real distinc- 
tion of the Persons (realis distinctio, non tantum notionalis) is 
based upon the facts that the Father from eternity has generated 
the Son, John 1, 14, while the Father and the Son have spirated the 
Holy Spirit, John 14, 26 ; 15, 26. 

These divine acts of generation and spiration are called per- 
sonal acts (actus personales) because they are not common to the 
Three Persons, but belong to, and distinguish, the individual Per- 
sons in the Godhead. To the Father, Holy Scripture ascribes the 
act of generation, John 1, 14, by which He communicated to the 
Son the fulness of the Godhead, or the entire divine essence, Col. 
2, 3. 9. Hence the Father possesses the divine essence unbegotten 
(dyF.rvtj'&cbg), while the Son possesses it begotten (yEvvt]&G>s). 



Scripture, moreover, affirms that the Father and the Son have 
spirated the Holy Ghost, Matt. 10, 20 ; Gal. 4, 6 ; for just as the 
Second Person is called the Son of the Father, so the Third Person 
is called the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. Through the 
spiration the Holy Ghost received the entire divine essence, Matt. 
28, 19; Acts 5, 3. 4, so that He is from eternity true God with the 
Father and the Son. 

On the basis of the personal acts, or the opera ad intra (gen- 
eration and spiration), we distinguish the notiones personales of 
the Three Persons: the Ayevvrjaia (innasdbilitas) of the Father, the 
yewtjota (nascibilitas) of the Son, and the Ixndgevoig (processio, 
spiratio passiva) of the Holy Ghost, and also the proprietates 
personales: the paternity (paternitas) of the Father, the son- 
ship (filiatio) of the Son, and the procession (processio) of the 
Holy Ghost. By personal properties we mean those peculiarities 
which one Person of the Godhead possesses in relation to one of 
the other Persons or to both, and by personal notations we mean 
the marks by which in general one Person can be recognized as 
distinct from another. These terms must not be regarded as 
superfluous; they are necessary to distinguish the divine Persons, 
as Scripture itself does. 

In connection with the spiration of the Holy Ghost we must 
consider also the question of the Filioque, or whether the Holy 
Ghost was spirated also by the Son. The Eastern Church denied 
the Filioque, while the Western Church, on the basis of Scripture, 
affirmed it; for Holy Scripture ascribes the same relation of the 
Holy Ghost to the Son as it does to the Father. As He is called 
the Spirit of the Father, Matt. 10, 20, so He is also called the Spirit 
of the Son, Gal. 4, 6 ; and as He is sent of the Father, John 14, 26, 
so He is said to be sent also of the Son, John 15, 26. Because the 
Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son, Christ could breathe and 
bestow Him upon His disciples, John 20, 22. 

The actus personales are also called inward operations (opera 
ad intra) because they occur within the Godhead and extend from 
one Person to another (generation and spiration). From the in- 
ward operations we distinguish the outward operations (opera ad 
extra), or the works in which the three Persons of the Godhead 
cooperate, or concur (creation, redemption, sanctification, etc.). 
Of the inward operations the axiom holds : "The inward operations 
are divided." ( Opera ad intra divisa sunt.) Of the outward opera- 
tions the axiom obtains : "The outward operations are undivided." 



( Opera ad extra sunt indivisa.) These axioms express the Scrip- 
tural truth that the inward operations are performed by individual 
Persons, while the outward operations are performed by the Three 
Persons in common, or together. If at times Scripture ascribes 
creation to the Father, redemption to the Son, and sanctification 
to the Holy Ghost, this is done by appropriation, which, however, 
does not exclude the divine operation of the other Persons. The 
only opus ad extra in which the Father and the Holy Ghost did not 
directly concur, was the work of redemption (the incarnation, suf- 
fering, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ) ; for while it 
is true that the Son was sent by the Father and sustained by Him 
in His redemptive work, and while it is equally true that He was 
anointed with the Holy Ghost (Ps. 45, 7 ; Heb. 1, 9 ; Acts 10, 38) 
for His work, Scripture ascribes the work of redemption to Christ 
alone, Eph. 2, 13 ; Col. 1, 20 ; 1 John 1, 7. To express this unique 
character of Christ's redemptive work, the dogmaticians have called 
it an opus mixtum, or a work which Christ accomplished alone, 
but in the performance of which He was not without the Father 
and the Holy Ghost. (For the actus personales compare Luther's 
exposition of the Three Symbols, St. L., X, 993 ff.) 

The name Father is sometimes used essentially (ovoiwdcbg), 
referring to the divine Persons equally (Jas. 1, 17; 2 Cor. 6, 17. 18; 
Luke 12, 32), and sometimes personally ({moorauxdx;), referring 
alone to the First Person of the Godhead, John 10, 30; 14, 9; 
1 John 2, 23. So also the name Spirit is used essentially, John 
4, 24, and personally, Matt. 12, 31 ; Mark 1, 10. 

By the term negixcogrjoig ( immanent ia, immeatio, circumin- 
cessio) is understood the mutual and most intimate inherence 
(inexistentia mutua et singularissima), by which one Person on 
account of the unity of the divine essence is within another, John 
14, 11; 17,21. By this term the Christian Church precludes the 
error of regarding the Three Persons as subsisting separately 
alongside one another. By the term equality Christian theology 
expresses the fact that one divine Person is in itself not greater 
than another, and by the term sameness, that the Three Persons 
have the same nature and consequently also cooperate in the same 
opera ad extra, John 5, 19. 17. 

On the basis of Holy Scripture, Hollaz defines the Three Per- 
sons as follows: "a) God the Father is the First Person of the 
Godhead, neither begotten nor proceeding, but from eternity be- 
getting the Son, the substantial image of Himself, and with the 



Son from eternity breathing forth the Holy Spirit, creating, pre- 
serving, and governing all things, sending His Son as the Eedeemer 
and the Holy Ghost as the Sanctifier of the human race, b) The 
Son of God is the Second Person of the Godhead, begotten of the 
Father from eternity, of the same essence and majesty with the 
Father, who with the Father from eternity breathes forth the Holy 
Spirit and in the fulness of time assumed human nature in His 
own Person that He might redeem and save the human race, 
c) The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead, of the 
same essence with the Father and the Son, who from eternity pro- 
ceeds from the Father and the Son and in time is sent forth by 
both to sanctify the hearts of those who are to be saved." (Doctr* 
Theol, p. 134.) 

In connection with the terminology of the Church regarding 
the doctrine of God we may consider the debated question whether 
God may be logically defined or not. In replying to the question, 
our dogmaticians distinguish between "a perfect definition, which 
exactly conforms to accurate logical rules, and a general descrip- 
tion, drawn from Scripture." (Gerhard.) The inadmissibility 
of a definition of God in the strict sense is argued, in the main, 
a) from the want of a genus, since God has no true and logical 
genus, and b) from the divine perfection of God, He being the 
Supreme Being, so that nothing is beyond Him. (Gerhard.) 
Nevertheless, though God cannot be logically defined as creatures 
are defined since He belongs in a class by Himself, a general de- 
scription of God, drawn from Scripture, is sufficient for such 
a knowledge of God as is needed for salvation. Accordingly God 
has been described as "the first Being, who is of Himself and the 
Cause of all other things," or more completely, by Melanchthon 
(Loci Theol., I, 13) : "God is a spiritual essence, intelligent, 
eternal, true, good, pure, just, merciful, most free, of vast power 
and wisdom — the eternal Father, who begat the Son, His own 
image, from eternity, and the Son, the coeternal image of the 
Father, and the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and 
the Son." 


That the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is clearly taught in 
the New Testament is a fact readily admitted by all Christians. 
The Unitarians, who deny even the New Testament proof for the 
Trinity, are outside the pale of the Christian Church. The Holy 



Trinity is revealed: a) in the solemn formula of Baptism given 
by Christ, Matt. 28, 19, in which the three Persons of the Godhead 
are represented as equal in authority, dignity, and essence; b) in 
the wonderful theophany at the baptism of Christ, Matt. 3, 16. 17, 
where the three Persons of the Godhead were distinctly manifested ; 
c) in the inspired benediction of St. Paul, 2 Cor. 13, 14, where the 
spiritual blessings of the Three Persons are expressly named. The 
passage 1 John 5, 7 is too doubtful to be used as a proof for the 
Holy Trinity. It is said that Cyprian (f 258) quotes it in his 
work De Unitate Ecclesiae: "Et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu 
Sancto scriptum est : 'Et tres unum est/ " Nevertheless it is best 
to disregard this passage altogether as a proof -text for the doctrine 
of the Holy Trinity. 

However, while all Christians admit the proofs for the Trinity 
as given in the New Testament, it has been claimed that the Old 
Testament, while containing indications and traces (indicia et 
vestigia) of the Holy Trinity, does not exhibit the doctrine so 
clearly that it could be believed or taught on the basis of the Old 
Testament passages (Calixtus; modern theologians). To this 
charge our dogmaticians replied (Gerhard, III, 218) : "We do not 
say that in the Old Testament there is the same clearness and 
evidence of the testimonies concerning the Trinity as in the New 
Testament ; but we assert that from the Old Testament some testi- 
monies, in exhibiting the doctrine of the Trinity, both can and 
ought to be cited, since God always from the beginning revealed 
Himself thus in order that the Church at all times might acknowl- 
edge, worship, and praise Him ... as three distinct Persons in one 
essence." (Doctr. Theol.j p. 157.) As a matter of fact the Old 
Testament contains not only mere "indications" of the Holy 
Trinity, but clear passages, in which the doctrine is unmistakably 
set forth. Such passages are those: a) in which God speaks of 
Himself in the plural number, Gen. 1,26; b) in which the Lord 
speaks of the Lord, Gen. 19,24; c) in which the Son of God is 
expressly named, Ps. 2, 7; d) in which three Persons of the God- 
head are distinctly enumerated, Gen. 1, 1. 2; 2 Sam. 23, 2; Ps. 
33, 6; Is. 42, 1 ; 48, 16. 17 ; 61, 1 ; e) in which the name Jehovah 
or God is thrice repeated in the same relation, Num. 6, 24 — 26 ; 
Ps. 42, 1. 2 ; Is. 33, 22 ; Jer. 33, 2 ; Dan. 9, 19 ; f ) from the tris- 
agion of the angels, Is. 6, 3 ; g) from the passages in which the 
Angel of the Lord (mrr *|tj6e>) is identified with God, Gen. 48, 
15.16; Ex. 3, 1—7; h) from the reference of Christ to the Old 



Testament when He proved the true deity and divine personality 
of the Son of God, Matt. 22, 41—46 compared with Ps. 110, 1. 
Certainly no one has ever been saved who did not believe in the 
true God (the Triune God) and the true Savior of the world (the 
Second Person of the Godhead), since this truth is stated so 
clearly in Scripture, Acts 4,12; John 5,23; 1 John 2,23. Nor 
is the plan of salvation which is taught in the New Testament dif- 
ferent from that which was taught in the Old Testament, Bom. 
3, 21—24 ; 4, 1—3. We rightly hold therefore that the doctrine of 
the Holy Trinity is so clearly set forth in the Old Testament that 
the believers in the Old Testament most assuredly had a true 
knowledge of God and of the promised Savior, His beloved Son. 

(De Essentia et Attrlbutis Dei.) 


Holy Scripture describes God as the Supreme Being (ens 
omnium exceUentissimum) or as the absolutely Perfect Essence 
(Deut. 10, 17 : "God of gods and Lord of lords"; 1 Tim. 6, 15. 16 : 
"the blessed and only Potentate," uovog dwdmys), or simply as 
the Absolute Being (ens primum), who "is before all things" and 
by whom "all things consist," Col. 1, 17. At times Scripture ap- 
plies the name god or gods to creatures ( dii nuncupative Xeyofievoi 
deoi), either because they perform real (John 10, 35; Ps. 82, 6) or 
supposed (Deut. 4, 28) divine functions, and are therefore vested 
either rightly or wrongly with divine authority (1 Cor. 8, 5, propter 
analogiam quandam, vel veram, vel fictam). Nevertheless Scrip- 
ture distinguishes clearly between the so-called gods (dii nuncu- 
pativi) and the one, true, and living God, 1 Cor. 8, 5. 6; Matt. 
19, 17. Magistrates (Ps. 82, 6) and idols (Deut. 4, 28) are indeed 
called gods (D'rfrK, foot), but God alone is Jehovah (njn\ nomen Dei 
essentiale et incommunicabile) . 

The names which Holy Scripture applies to the true God are 
not empty titles, but describe God according to His divine essence, 
attributes, and works. This is true especially of the essential and 
incommunicable name of God "Jehovah," which He Himself ex- 
plains as "I Am That I Am" (Ex. 3, 14. 15) or as the eternal, 
unchangeable divine Being (Luther: "lauter 1st*' that is, pure 
Being). This explains why that name is never applied to creatures. 
(Is. 42, 8 : "I, Jehovah; that is My name.") The real pronuncia- 
tion of the tetragrammaton is perhaps Yahweh (»TJ«£), but since the 



pronunciation "Jehovah" has become current in the Church, it 
would be intolerable pedantry to insist upon the supposed "original 

When we describe human beings, we ascribe to them both 
a nature and attributes. Just so Holy Scripture, accommodating 
itself to the laws of human thought and speech, ordinarily speaks 
of God as possessing both a divine essence and divine attributes. 
In other words, it speaks of God's attributes, such as omnipotence, 
grace, love, etc., as inhering in the divine essence. Nevertheless 
the attributes of God are not accidents (accidentia), but His very 
divine essence, since God is absolutely simple in His divine Being, 
Ex. 3, 14. 15. "The properties, or attributes, of God are His very 
essence. No accidents may be predicated of God." Or we may 
say : Since we cannot conceive of an absolutely simple being ( ens 
simplex), God has graciously revealed Himself to us according to 

In this way we gain of God an adequate conception, which, 
though incomplete, is essentially correct, 1 Cor. 13, 9 — 12. Of the 
divine attributes Gerhard writes (111,84): "The attributes, exist 
inseparably in God; for as it is impossible that the essence of an 
object may be separated from the object itself, so also the attributes 
cannot be separated from God, since they are the very essence of 
God." (Doctr. Theol, p. 122.) And Calov (II, 222) : "If the at- 
tributes really differed from the essence after the manner of acci- 
dents, a composition in God would be predicated." (Ibid.) Our 
dogmaticians are therefore right in saying that "the divine attri- 
butes are distinguished from the divine essence, not really, but only 
according to our mode of conceiving." ''Essentia et attributa in Deo 
non realiter, sed nostro concipiendi modo differunt; distinguuntur 
autem et ah essentia divina et inter se propter intellectus nostri 
imperfectionem. Attributa divina, quamvis in Deo non distincta, 
in nostris tamen conceptibus distinguenda sunt/' Since, however, 
Scripture carefully distinguishes between the various attributes of 
God, the Christian theologian, too, must distinguish between them, 
as, for example, between divine justice and grace, divine wrath and 
love, etc. Where this distinction is not observed, the entire the- 
ology becomes false. (Cp. the denial of the Law on account of the 

When treating the doctrine of the divine essence and attri- 
butes, the question has been debated: "In what sense are essence 
and attributes ascribed to God and to creatures ?" The answer is : 




Not a) univocally (univoce), so that they belong to God and the 
creatures in precisely the same meaning, nor b) equivocally 
(aequivoce), so that the attributes when used of God have an 
entirely different meaning than when they are used of creatures, 
but c) analogically (anaiogice), so that the attributes ascribed to 
creatures bear an analogy, or resemblance, to the attributes of God ; 
that is to say, the attributes belong rightly both to God and men, 
but not in the same manner nor in the same degree. When we 
say, "God lives, and man lives," or, "God loves, and man loves," 
we ascribe to God perfect, absolute, and independent life and love, 
but to man imperfect, relative, and dependent life and love. The 
same attributes which God has in Himself as His most perfect, 
divine essence man has from God as His free gifts, and not indeed 
as his essence, but as accidents, which may be lost. Col. 1, 17 : "He 
is before all things, and by Him all things consist"; Acts 17, 28: 
"In Him we live and move and have our being." The basic differ- 
ence between the Creator and the creatures determines also the 
difference in the possession of attributes. The importance of prop- 
erly deciding the question is patent from the following: If we 
ascribe the essence and attributes to God and creatures univocally 
(Duns Scotus, f 1308), the essential difference between God and 
the creatures is denied, and the creatures are coordinated with God 
and made divine (pantheism). On the other hand, if we ascribe 
the essence and attributes to God and creatures equivocally (Peter 
Aureolus, f 1321; the Franciscans), it is impossible for us to 
know God (agnosticism), since then we cannot tell what really the 
attributes in God mean. (What does it mean when God is said to 
be Love? 1 John 4, 16.) However, if we ascribe the essence and 
attributes to God by way of analogy, or resemblance, then in our 
contemplation of God we rise from the imperfection of the human 
attributes to the absolute perfection of the divine, Is. 49, 15. 
Augustine says: "Condescendit nobis Dens, ut nos consurgamus" 
The divine attributes have been divided into negative and 
positive, or quiescent and operative, or absolute and relative, or 
immanent and transient, etc. But no matter how we may classify 
the divine attributes, we must in every case acquire our knowledge 
of them only from Holy Scripture, never from reason or specu- 
lation. In other words, God Himself must inform us what we are 
to understand by divine omnipotence, divine love, divine grace, etc. 
Many pernicious errors have arisen from the fact that theologians 
endeavored to determine the divine attributes a priori, or from 



reason. For instance, on the basis of divine love errorists have 
denied divine justice (the necessity of Christ's vicarious atonement, 
Modernism, Unitarianism) and the possibility of eternal punish- 
ment (Russellism, Universalism). As the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity, so also that of the divine essence and attributes is beyond 
reason, since God is absolutely incomprehensible; we know of 
God's attributes only so much as He Himself has revealed to us. 

In more recent times, dogmaticians have classified the divine 
attributes according to God's relation (Bezogenheit zur Welt) or 
non-relation (Abgezogenheit zur Welt) to the world, or according 
to God's absolute essence (eternity, etc.), His absolute sovereignty 
(omnipotence, etc.), and His absolute goodness (love, etc.), or 
according to God's divine existence, knowledge, and will, etc. 
While some of these are quite helpful and commendable, the 
modern classifications in general improve very little on those of 
our older dogmaticians so far as their practical value is concerned. 
All the classifications of the divine attributes are more or less 

(Attributa Negativa.) 

The negative attributes are those by which all imperfections 
which we observe in creatures are removed from God, since nothing 
in any way imperfect can be ascribed to Him. They are also 
called quiescent (dvEvegyrjia), since they have no specific reference 
to the actions of God, or immanent (absoluta) attributes, since 
they describe the divine essence absolutely and in itself. These 
attributes are: divine unity, simplicity, immutability, infinity, 
immensity, eternity, omnipresence. 

a. Divine unity (unitas) is the attribute of God by virtue of 
which the divine essence is absolutely single; not only undivided, 
but also indivisible. Unity is ascribed to God a) absolutely , that 
is, the divine essence is neither divided nor divisible, John 4, 24; 
Ex. 3, 14. 15, and b) exclusively, since besides God there is no God, 
Deut. 6, 4; 4, 35. (Cp. Doctr. Theol., p. 118ff.) 

b. Divine simplicity (simplicitas) is the divine attribute of 
God according to which He is truly and really uncompounded (not 
compounded of matter and form, of integral parts, of substance and 
accident, of nature and subsistence). Hollaz writes: "God is said 
to be one, not in kind (specie), but in number (numero), since He 
is a being entirely alone, not only in Himself undivided, but also 
indivisible because of the entire simplicity of the divine essence, 



as there is no composition in God." (Ex. 3, 14. 15: "I Am That 
I Am .") The attribute of spirituality, John 4, 24, is comprised in 
that of simplicity. 

c. Divine immutability (immutdbilitas) is the attribute of God 
according to which He is liable to no change whatever, neither as 
to existence (Rom. 1, 23; 1 Tim. 1, 17; 6, 16) nor as to accidents 
( Jas. 1, 17) nor as to will or purpose (Num. 23, 19 ; Prov. 19, 21 ; 
Mai. 3, 6). If Holy Scripture ascribes to God change of mind 
(Gen. 6, 6; 1 Sam. 15, 11) or change of place (Gen. 11, 5), it does 
this in accommodation to our mode of perceiving. These passages 
do not assert that God is subject to change as men are (1 Sam. 
15, 29), but must be understood in a manner becoming God 
{fieonQenax;). Gerhard writes (I, 110) : "The affections which 
Scripture ascribes to God do not prove any mutability of the 
divine essence; for those things which are spoken of anthropo- 
pathically (dv&QCDTzoTia&ax;) must be understood in a sense be- 
coming God (&E07ZQe7z&s)." Scripture thus speaks of God in a 
twofold manner: a) as He is in Himself, immutable and incor- 
ruptible, forever exalted over space and time, 1 Sam. 15, 29; 
Ps. 90,4; and b) as He accommodates Himself to our conception 
of space and time, 1 Sam. 15, 11 ; Gen. 11, 5. Nevertheless, wher- 
ever Scripture pictures God anthropomorphically or anthropo- 
pathically, this is not a mere modus loquendi, but a true descrip- 
tion of God, though after our human mode of perceiving. In other 
words, when the immutable God is said to be angry or jealous 
(1 Pet. 5, 5) toward the wicked or gracious (Luke 1, 52. 53) to 
penitent sinners, we must regard Him precisely as these expres- 
sions describe Him, though in a manner conforming with His 
divine perfection. In Deum nulla cadit mutatio. 

The question whether the work of creation or of incarnation 
changed the immutable God, Gerhard answers as follows (1, 124) : 
"By no means; for in time He did that which from eternity He 
had decreed in His immutable will." The reason for this is evident. 
Tho creation was not something occurring in God (pantheism), but 
rather something outside God (Christian dualism), namely, the 
calling into being of things that did not exist before, but had been 
determined by God from eternity (decree of creation). Neither was 
the incarnation any change in the divine essence, but the assump- 
tion of the human nature into the person of the Xoyog, as determined 
by God from eternity (decree of redemption). 

d. Divine infinity (infinitas) is that attribute of God according 



to which He is contained within no bounds either of time (eternity) 
or of space (immensity). Scripture ascribes to God infinity a) as 
to His essence, Ps. 145, 3, and b) as to His attributes, Ps. 147, 5. 
Hence we say correctly that not only God in Himself (divine 
essence) is infinite, but that also His knowledge, power, wisdom, 
grace, love, etc., are infinite. 

e. Divine immensity (immensitas) is that attribute of God 
according to which He cannot be measured by, or included in, any 
local confines, Jer. 23, 24; 1 Kings 8,27. Quenstedt defines the 
divine immensity as "the interminable ubiety, by virtue of which 
God cannot but be everywhere in His own essence," or as "the 
absolute interminability of the divine essence." Since God cannot 
be measured by, or included in, anything finite, Is. 40, 15 — 17, we 
should not judge Him by our reason (Unitarians), but regard Him 
precisely as Scripture pictures Him, 1 Tim. 6, 16, i. e.j as the divine 
Being who is exalted over all creatures. 

f. Divine eternity (aetemitas), absolutely so called (in oppo- 
sition to "long time"), is that attribute according to which the 
divine essence is without beginning or end, without succession or 
change, Ps. 102, 27 ; 90, 2 ; Gen. 21, 33 ; Is. 40, 28 ; 1 Tim. 1, 17 ; 
Rev. 1, 4 ; etc. Scripture uses the doctrine of the divine attributes 
both for our warning and for our consolation. For when we oppose 
God, we oppose the one, immutable, infinite, immense, eternal 
divine Being whose wrath and punishment are endless, 2 Thess. 
1, 9 ; and on the other hand, when we entrust ourselves to God, we 
are putting our confidence in the one, immutable, infinite, immense, 
eternal divine Being, whose love and mercy are equally endless, 
1 Thess. 4, 17; 2 Cor. 5, 1. 

In connection with God's divine eternity we may consider 
also His divine aseity (a&eitas), according to which God is abso- 
lutely of Himself and independent of anything outside Himself, 
Bom. 11, 33 — 36. (Aseitas est attributum, quo Deus Uberrima 
ipsius causa est et nemini quidquam debet, sed ipse solus est rerum 
omnium Auctor.) 

g. Divine omnipresence (omnipraesentia) is the attribute of 
God according to which He is illocally, but essentially, everywhere. 
Quenstedt: "God is actually present to all His creatures." With 
respect to God's omnipresence we must note the following : — 

1. God is omnipresent with regard to His essence, not only 
with regard to His divine operation, Jer. 23, 24; in other words, 
God never operates in absentia (Calvinists), for wherever He 



works, there He is, Ps. 139, 7—10. Gerhard writes (III, 122) : 
"God is present to all things, not only by virtue and efficacy, nor 
only by sight and knowledge, but also in His entire and individual 
essence; for He is immense and infinite, not only in power and 
knowledge, but also in essence." (Doctr. Theoh, p. 125.) 

To Christ, according to His human nature, Scripture ascribes 
a local presence (presentia localis, Luke 2, 12), an illocal presence 
(praesentia illocalis, John 20, 19), and a repletive presence (prae- 
sentia repletiva, Eph. 1, 23 ; 4, 10). 

2. God is present in all creatures, yet He is never a part of 
them, but always remains the transmundane, transcendent God. 
Deus nunquam in compositionem creaturarum venit. The omni- 
presence of God must therefore not be understood in the sense of 
pantheistic immanence. While it is true that God is so intimately 
joined to all creatures that in Him they live and move and have 
their being, Acts 17, 28; Col. 1, 17, nevertheless the difference 
between God and His creatures always remains as great as that 
between the infinite and the finite, Num. 23, 19; 1 Sam. 15, 29. 
Gerhard writes (III, 122) : "God is everywhere present, not 
ovvexicbg, so as to be comprehended, but ovvexzixcos, so as to com- 
prehend and contain all things." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 125.) Again: 
"The Scholastics say that God is everywhere, not locally or by way 
of circumscription . . . nor definitely . . . , but repletively; yet 
this must not be understood in a gross and corporeal manner . . . , 
but in a divine manner, so that God, though He is confined to no 
place because of the immensity of His essence, yet contains all 
places." (Ibid.) Against the objection that God cannot be present 
in "impure places" (Erasmus) we must hold that "God is every- 
where and fills all things," Deum esse ubique et replete omnia 
(Luther). That God is thus everywhere both enter et potenter is 
a clear Scriptural doctrine, Eph. 1, 20 — 23 ; 4, 10. 

3. God is omnipresent, yet a) without multiplication (multi- 
plicatio) of His essence (polytheism), b) without extension (ex- 
tensio), c) without contraction (rarefactio), d) without division 
(divisio), and e) without commingling (commixtio). In other 
words, we must not think of God's omnipresence in a corporeal 
way, as if He, when present, occupied space or were subject to 
space (1 Kings 8, 27; Is. 66, 1) ; for "God's presence is a) illocal, 
b) indivisible, c) incomprehensible to our reason, d) effective and 
operative, and e) containing within itself all things" (Gerhard). 



The true doctrine of God's omnipresence is of special importance 
for the right understanding of the Lord's Supper (Real Presence). 

In connection with the doctrine of the divine omnipresence 
a number of questions may be considered. The first is: "Is the 
universe infinite ?" or : "Is there any space outside this universe ?" 
On the basis of Scripture this question must be denied, since space 
belongs to creation and all creatures are in God, Col. 1, 17; Acts 
17, 28. To predicate infinity of space would be tantamount to 
deifying the universe, which as a creature is finite. Deus dat loco 
et rebus, quae sunt in loco, suum esse. The second question is: 
"Is there in the divine manifestations of wrath or grace any special 
approach of the divine essence (specidlis approximate essentiae 
divinae)?" In view of God's immensity this question must be 
answered in the negative, since the divine essence is never sepa- 
rated from the creatures, but is always present; yet as anthropo- 
pathic expressions such Scripture statements as John 14, 23 ; Gen. 
11, 5 are to be considered not as a mere mode of speaking (modus 
loquendi), but as an assertion of truth which, properly (fteonQETicbg) 
understood, is designed for either our comfort or warning. The 
last question: "Was God essentially operative before Creation?" 
must be classified among the foolish questions, which are unprofit- 
able and vain, Titus 3, 9. Since God has not revealed anything 
with respect to any creative work before this world was made, 
human speculation on this point is useless. Nevertheless, on the 
one hand, we must not regard God as ever having been essentially 
inoperative ; on the other, we have no Scriptural ground to assume 
that God ever created a universe before this present world. The 
warning which applies from God's omnipresence is clear from Jer. 
23, 24; Ps. 139, 7ff., the comfort from Ps. 23, 4; Matt. 28, 20. 


The positive attributes (attributa ivEQyrjTixd, positiva opera- 
tives, transeuntia, relativa) are those by which we ascribe to God, 
in a specific and singular sense, all the perfections which we find 
in His creatures. These are: life, knowledge, wisdom, will, holi- 
ness, justice, veracity, power, goodness (grace, mercy, love, long- 
suffering, etc.). 

a. Divine life (vita) is the attribute of God by which He 
always is and shows Himself active. In particular, God is life 
1) essentially, since He is glvt6£cqos, having life iv iavicp, John 
5, 26, that is, He is life in Himself and of Himself, by His own 



nature and essence ; 2 ) effectively, since He is the cause and origin 
of all life outside Himself, Acts 17, 28; Deut. 32, 39. Negatively 
this attribute is expressed by immortality, 1 Tim. 6, 16, and incor- 
ruptibility, Eom. 1, 23; 1 Tim. 1, 17. In contradistinction to the 
idols of the heathen, God is the "living God," Acts 14, 15, to whom 
all creatures owe their existence, Acts 17, 25. The warning con- 
nected with this attribute may be deduced from Heb. 10,31; the 
consolation from 1 Tim. 3, 15; 4, 10. 

b. Divine knowledge (scientia) is the attribute of God by 
which He through one simple and eternal act of His mind knows 
all things which have been, are, and shall be, or even in any way 
can be, that is, all things which are conditionally future or possible, 
1 Sam. 2,3; 1 John 3,20; 1 Kings 8,39; Ps. 7,9; 34, 15; 139,1; 
Prov. 15, 3. God's knowledge is distinguished from human knowl- 
edge: a) by its extent, since God knows all things (John 21,17: 
omniscientia) , the future things (Is. 41, 22. 23 : praescientia) , all 
possible and conditionally future or possible things (1 Sam. 23, 12; 
Matt. 11, 23 : scientia de futuro conctitionata, scientia media) ; 
b) by His manner of knowing, since God knows all things whatso- 
ever through one simple and eternal act of the mind ( Deus res non 
per species intelligibiles, sed in se sive in esse proprio cognoscit. 
Homo res adspicit, Deus perspicit.) Thus God knows the very 
thoughts of men, 1 Kings 8, 39 ; Acts 15, 8; John 2, 25. The reve- 
lation of God's perfect knowledge should serve for our warning, 
Is. 41, 22. 23 ; Ps. 139, 12, and for our consolation, Is. 66, 2 ; Matt 
6, 32. To describe God's perfect knowledge, our dogmaticians have 
divided it also into: 1) natural knowledge (scientia naturalise 
essentidlis), according to which God fully knows Himself; 2) free 
knowledge (scientia libera), according to which He knows all things 
outside Himself; and 3) mediate knowledge (scientia media), ac- 
cording to which He knows all possible and conditionally future 
or possible things. 

In this connection we may consider the important question r 
"How does God's infallible foreknowledge agree with the freedom 
of man's will and human responsibility ?" The question is impor- 
tant, since, on the basis of God's infallible foreknowledge, men 
have denied either the freedom of the will and human responsibility 
(Stoicism) or, on the basis of the human responsibility, the infal- 
lible foreknowledge, or omniscience, of God (Atheism, Agnos- 
ticism). While the question involves mysteries which we cannot 
solve in this life, Scripture nevertheless teaches the following: 



a) The foreknowledge of God embraces all things and is infallible, 
Ps. 139, 1 — 4; Rev. 3, 15. b) God's foreknowledge is not the effi- 
cient cause of the evil which He foresees. The Formula of Cotword 
teaches correctly : "The foreknowledge of God is nothing else than 
that God knows all things before they happen, as it is written 
Dan. 2, 28. This foreknowledge extends alike over the godly and 
the wicked, but it is not the cause of evil, neither of sin, namely,, 
of doing what is wrong (which originally arises from the devil and 
the wicked, perverse will of man), nor of their ruin [that men 
should perish], for which they themselves are responsible; but it 
only regulates it, and fixes a limit to it how long it should last,, 
and all this to the end that it should serve His elect for their sal- 
vation, notwithstanding that it is evil in itself. " (Epitome,. 
XI, 3. 4.) 

Our confession thus distinguishes correctly a) between the 
divine foreknowledge and the origin of evil and b) between the 
divine foreknowledge in general and the special divine foreknowl- 
edge (Amos 3, 2 ; Gal. 4, 9 : nosse cum affectu et effectu), to which 
the saints of God owe their election and salvation. Eom. 8, 29. 30 : 
"Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate." With regard 
to the mysteries which remain in spite of these revelations the 
Formula of Concord rightly exhorts all believers "not to Teason 
in their thoughts, draw conclusions, nor inquire curiously into these 
matters, but adhere to His revealed Word, to which He points us."" 
(Thor. Decl., XI, 54^-57.) 

When the question is asked: "Do all things happen as God 
foreknows them?" then indeed the answer must be in the affir- 
mative. When the question is asked: "Do men act under coer- 
cion?" the answer must be in the negative. Judas's betrayal of 
Christ was a voluntary performance of evil, John 14, 26 — 30, just 
as Peter's confession of Christ was a voluntary performance of 
good, John 6, 65 — 71. Neither acted under coercion, though the 
one was under sin, the other under grace. Holy Scripture rig- 
orously rules out all fatalistic or deterministic speculations. 

While there is neither a prius nor a postering in God, but all 
things are ever present before Him, Heb. 4, 13, Holy Scripture 
nevertheless in accommodation to our feeble understanding speaks 
of God's foreknowledge (praescientia), since we have no conception 
at all of the perpetual "to-day" or "present," Ps. 2, 7. Just so the 
Christian theologian must therefore speak when he describes the 
divine knowledge with respect to future events. The question 



whether prescience may be ascribed also to men, angels, and de- 
parted spirits must be answered in the negative, Matt. 24, 36; 
Mark 13, 32. 

c. Divine wisdom (sapientia) is that attribute of God by which 
He disposes and ordains all things in a most admirable manner for 
the attainment of His end, Job 12, 13; 28, 20; Rom. 11, 33.' God's 
wisdom stands in close connection with His knowledge, so that the 
two often appear together (Rom. 11, 33: oocpiag xal yvcooecog; 
1 Cor. 12, 8 : Xoyog oocplag, Xoyog yvcboecog). While the exact 
distinction between the two attributes is not clearly stated in 
Scripture, we may for all practical purposes distinguish between 
them as we do between intelligence and wisdom, so that oocpta 
denotes the practical application of yvcboig. Scripture ascribes to 
God wisdom especially a) in the realm of nature (Ps. 104, 24: 
creation and preservation) and b) in the realm of grace (1 Cor. 
2, 6ff.). Hence we should not criticize the wisdom of the only-wise 
God, 1 Tim. 1, 17; Rom. 16, 27, as Modernists and atheists do 
when they reject Scripture as the only source of truth and blas- 
pheme the divine method of creation (Mosaic creation report) and 
redemption ( satis f actio vicaria), but we should rather admire and 
adore it, Rom. 11,33, with holy reverence and fear. 

d. Divine will (voluntas) has been treated by our dogmaticians 
sometimes as a separate attribute and sometimes as supplementary 
to the divine attribute of wisdom. In that case they deduce from 
the will of God the attributes of holiness, justice, truth, good- 
ness, etc. (Baier). The manner of treating the subject is imma- 
terial as long as the doctrine that is presented is Scriptural. 

As Scripture ascribes to God an intelligent mind (Rom. 11, 34: 
vovg), so it ascribes to Him also will, 1 Tim. 2, 4; John 6, 40; 
1 Thess. 4, 3. The will of God is the divine essence itself, seeking 
that which is good and opposing that which is evil. As to the 
causes of the divine will (causae voluntatis divinae), Scripture 
describes God a) in His supreme majesty, as independent of any- 
thing outside Himself, or as absolutely sovereign in Himself, Rom. 
11, 36. Viewed in this manner, God is not moved by anything but 
by Himself; or we may say, in Him cause and effect coincide. 
Non sunt in Deo causae formaliter causantes. But Scripture 
speaks of God also b) from the viewpoint of human understanding; 
that is to say, since God in His divine essence is unintelligible 
to us, it leads us to distinguish in Him between cause and effect 
and to regard Him as provoked to wrath by sin, Jer. 2, 19, 



and as moved to grace by Christ's redemption, Rom. 3, 24. In Deo 
sunt causae virtualiter causantes. It is only when we speak of 
God in this Scriptural way that we can properly distinguish be- 
tween Law and Gospel. 

Although there is but one will in God, which is identical with 
His divine essence (no contradictory wills), yet, on the basis of 
Scripture, we may distinguish between : — 

1. The first and the second divine will (voluntas prima, volun- 
tas secunda; voluntas antecedent, voluntas consequens). The first 
will of God (voluntas antecedent) is that by which He earnestly 
desires the salvation of all sinners, John 3, 16. 17; the second will 
(voluntas consequens) is that by which He judges and condemns 
all those who reject His grace in Christ Jesus, John 3,18. This 
distinction we hold against the double election of Calvinism, ac- 
cording to which God from eternity elected some to salvation and 
others to damnation. 

2. The irresistible and the resistible divine will (voluntas irre- 
sistibilis, voluntas resistibilis). God's will is irresistible whenever 
it exerts itself absolutely, or whenever God acts in His absolute 
majesty and sovereignty (Creation, Final Judgment, 2 Cor. 5, 10; 
Matt. 25, 31 ff.) ; it is resistible whenever it exerts itself through 
means (rejection of divine grace offered in the Gospel, Matt. 
23,37). However, neither this nor the first distinction must be 
abused in the interest of synergism. 

3. The absolute and the ordinate divine will (voluntas abso- 
luta, voluntas ordinata). God's absolute will exerts itself without 
means, John 2, 1 — 11; Luke 1, 15; the ordinate will exerts itself 
through means (conversion through the means of grace, Kom. 
10, 17; Titus 3, 5; 1 Pet. 1, 23ff.; Mark 16, 15; Matt. 28, 19. 20). 
To reject the divinely ordained means of grace means to espouse 
the error of enthusiasm. 

4. The gracious will and the conditional divine will (voluntas 
gratiae, voluntas conditionata) . The gracious will of God exerts 
itself in the salvation of men, for He desires that all men should 
be saved by grace, through faith, without the deeds of the Law, or 
good works, Kom. 3, 28 ; Eph. 2, 8. 9 ; Rom. 11, 6 ; Gal. 3, lOf. ; the 
conditional will of God is that by which He demands perfect obe- 
dience of all who would be saved by the Law, Gal. 2, 12 ; 3, 10. 
Since the Fall no man can be saved by the deeds of the Law ; the 
conditional will of God after the Fall is therefore a stern reproof 
of the folly of attempting salvation by works, Luke 10, 28. 



5. The revealed and the hidden divine will ( voluntas revelata, 
signi; voluntas abscondita, beneplaciti). The revealed will of 
God embraces the entire revelation of Scripture, 1 Cor. 2, 12 — 16; 
the hidden will of God includes all things which He has left un- 
revealed in His Word, Kom. 11, 33. 34. While we should diligently 
study the revealed will of God in Holy Scripture, the attempt to 
explore His hidden will must be condemned as both foolish and 

e. Divine holiness (sanctiias) is that attribute of God by which 
He, conformably to His own Law, desires all things that are right 
and good, Deut. 32,4; Ps. 92,15; Lev. 11,44; 1 Pet. 1, 15. In 
particular, God is holy a) essentially, inasmuch as He is by His 
divine essence most supremely exalted over all creatures, in which 
sense holiness denotes God's supreme majesty and comprises all 
His other attributes, Is. 6, 3; John 12, 41; b) efficiently, inasmuch 
as He is the Author of all holiness and stands in direct opposition 
to sin, 1 Pet. 1, 16; Lev. 11, 44. 45. The holiness of God should 
move us to appear before Him with great reverence, Gen. 18,27; 
Ex. 3, 5, and, at the same time, with great boldness and confidence, 
since Christ by His vicarious atonement has made peace between 
the Holy God and sinful man, Eom. 5, 1; 5,10; Eph. 3, 11. 12. 

f. Divine justice (iustitia) is that attribute of God by which 
He is perfectly just and righteous in His divine essence, Ps. 92, 15, 
and by which He, in conformity with His own perfect, righteous 
essence, demands of men that which is just, Hos. 14, 9 ; Ps. 1, 5. 6. 
Hollaz fitly defines the justice of God as follows: "Justice is 
a divine attribute by virtue of which God wishes and does all those 
things which are conformed to His eternal Law, Ps. 92, 15, pre- 
scribes suitable laws to creatures, Ps. 19, 7, fulfils His promises 
made to men, Is. 45, 23, rewards the good, Rom. 2, 5 — 7 ; 2 Thess. 
1, 6. 7, and punishes the wicked, Ps. 119, 137; Eom. 1, 32; Acts 
17,31; 2 Thess. 1,6; Eom. 3, 8. 19." Since God is God, He is 
exlex, that is, He is not under the Law, but is Himself the perfect 
norm of justice. Deus iustus est, quia omnia suae legi conformiter 
vult aut facit. 

The justice of God, applied to men, is a) iustitia legaiis, or 
the divine righteousness revealed in the Law, and b) iustitia evan- 
gelica, or the divine righteousness revealed in the Gospel, which 
has been secured for sinners through Christ's vicarious atonement. 
The iustitia legdlis may again be described as a) legislatoria, in- 
asmuch as it is the norm of human righteousness, Matt. 22, 37ff. ; 



b) remuneratoria, inasmuch as it rewards the good, 2 Tim. 4, 8; 
and c) vindicativa (punitiva, ultrix), inasmuch as it punishes the 
evil, 2 Thess. 1, 4 — 10. The itistitia evangelica is the essence of 
the Christian religion, since upon it the salvation of man rests. 
The question whether God, according to His iustitia vindicativa, 
punishes sin adequately must be answered in the affirmative. 

g. Divine veracity (veracitas) is that attribute of God by 
which He is unfailing in speaking the truth and keeping His 
promises, Num. 23, 19 ; Heb. 6, 18 ; Deut. 32, 4. The revelation of 
this attribute implies a peculiar condescension on the part of God, 
since man through unbelief doubts both the threats of the Law and 
the promises of the Gospel, Ps. 90, 11; Is. 53, 1; John 12, 38. 
Just because of human unbelief, God has graciously revealed to us 
that, while all men are liars, Ps. 116, 11; Rom. 3, 4, He Himself 
is Truth, Titus 1, 2 ; John 3, 33 ; Heb. 6, 18 ; Matt. 24, 35 ; John 
10, 35. In view of God's veracity we should fear His wrath, Gal. 
6, 7, and trust in His promises, Rom. 10, 11 ; Titus 1, 2. 

h. Divine power (potentia) is that attribute of God by which 
He can accomplish everything that can possibly be done without 
implying any contradiction in His divine essence. Quenstedt de- 
fines the power of God (1, 293) thus: "Power is that by which 
God independently, through the eternal activity of His own essence, 
can do absolutely everything that does not involve a contradiction." 
(Doctr. Theol., p. 120.) God's perfect power is distinguished from 
the imperfect and relative power of man both with regard to 
manner and extent; for, with regard to the first, God's power is 
His will, Gen. 1, 3 ; Ps. 115, 3 (Deus producit volendo), while, with 
regard to the second, His power embraces all things that are in 
conformity with His perfect essence, Matt. 19, 26; Luke 1, 37. 
Because God has infinite power, we must not speak of Him as if He 
had exhausted Himself when creating this universe (pantheism). 
Nor must we conclude from God's power what in our estimation 
He ought to do. Thus the conclusion of rationalistic theologians 
that, since God is almighty, He ought to forgive sin without 
Christ's vicarious suffering and death is a blasphemy. 

God exerts His power in two ways, namely: a) by means 
(causae secundae) and b) without means. The first is God's ordi- 
nate power (potentia ordinata); the second is His absolute power 
(potentia dbsoluta, immediata). In both instances the same al- 
mighty power is brought into action, Ps. 33, 6 — 9. Whenever God 
works absolutely what ordinarily He accomplishes by means, 



we are confronted with miracles (John 2,11: orj/usTa; Acts 2,43: 
regard xal oYj/neia). With respect to miracles we must hold, on 
the basis of Scripture, a) that God can perform miracles when- 
ever He pleases, since He is the sovereign Lord and the laws of 
nature, which in themselves are never invariable (evolutionists), 
are nothing else than His own divine will applied to the things 
created; but b) that we should use the divinely ordained means, 
both in the realm of nature and of grace, and not presumptuously 
demand miracles on our behalf, Luke 11,16; Matt. 12, 39. The 
fides heroica, which with extraordinary confidence in God performs 
miracles, is not judged by this rule; but let the person who en- 
deavors to perform miracles be sure that his "faith" is really fides 
heroica and not presumption. 

The denial of God's omnipotence on the ground that He can- 
not lie, steal, die, etc., must be condemned as blasphemous sophistry. 
Sunt sophismata, quibus definitio rex tollitur. 

i. Divine goodness (bonitas) in its objective sense is that attri- 
bute of God by which His divine essence is perfectly conformed to 
His divine will, or His absolute perfection, Matt. 19, 17. Relatively 
also the creatures of God are good, Gen. 1, 31, even after the 
Fall, namely, inasmuch aa they are creatures of God, 1 Tim. 4, 4. 
However, creatures possess no essential goodness, or perfection, 
but are good only as God's handiwork. In contradistinction to 
all creatures, God alone is good, or good in and of Himself 
(rd avroaya&dv). Gerhard writes of God's goodness in this sense : 
"Dens est vere bonus et solus bonus et omnis bonitatis causa." 
The Scriptural truth that God alone is absolutely and in Himself 
good (essential Goodness) and that men are only relatively, or 
dependently, good should preserve us from pride and envy and 
move us to humility and gratitude, 1 Cor. 4, 7; 1 Pet. 2, 1. 
Gerhard writes: "All good things come down upon us and our 
neighbor from God; who is envious of his neighbor opposes God 
Himself, the Giver of all gifts, and is truly a ded/uaxog (a God- 

While divine goodness in its objective sense denotes the abso- 
lute divine perfection, or the divine essential goodness, in its sub- 
jective sense it denotes His gracious disposition and conduct toward 
His creatures, Ps. 145, 9; 36, 6. 7. According to Scripture, God is 
good a) in general, to all creatures, Ps. 136; b) in particular, to 
all men, Matt. 5,45; c) more especially, to men as sinners, John 
3, 16; and d) in a most special sense, to His believing saints, Rom. 



8,28; 1 Cor. 2, 9; Deut. 33, 3; John 16,27. God's goodness 
toward us should always move us to grateful love to Him, 

1 John 4, 19. 

Under the attribute of divine goodness (bonitas relativa), we 
may group a) divine grace, as goodness unmerited by men, Titus 
3, 5; Kom. 3, 24; b) divine mercy, as goodness toward men in 
need, Luke 1, 78. 79; c) divine love, as goodness desiring com- 
munion with men, John 3, 16; d) divine patience and long- 
suffering, as goodness waiting for man's repentance, 1 Pet. 3, 20 ; 

2 Pet. 3, 9. These attributes deserve consideration above all others, 
for they are the true scope of Scripture and the great theme in 
which Christian preaching centers, 1 Cor. 2, 2. The entire Gospel- 
message may be summed up in the divine attribute of goodness, for 
what it proclaims is nothing else than the manifestation of divine 
grace, love, mercy, long-suffering, friendliness, etc., in Christ Jesus, 
our Lord, 1 John 4, 9. The revelation of all other divine attributes 
would be dreadful indeed were it not for God's goodness in Christ. 
But as God is good, so those who through faith in Christ have 
become His dear children should likewise be good, gracious, mer- 
ciful, Luke 6, 36 ; Matt. 5, 44. 45 ; Eph. 4, 32 ; Col. 3, 12. 

God's goodness has been objected to on the ground that His 
punishments are frequently severe and destructive. While Scrip- 
ture does not deny this fact, Matt. 24, 21. 22, it points out the great 
truth that even God's dire punishments are motivated by His saving 
love ; for by them He calls sinners to repentance, Luke 13, 1 — 3. 
However, all who deny the Bible as the only source of faith, the 
Triune God as the only true God, and Christ as the only Savior 
from sin can never hope to share in the eternal blessings of God's 
goodness, grace, and love. 




(De Decretis Divlnis.) 

The acts of God are divided into two kinds, internal (opera 
•ad intra), and external (opera ad extra), the latter being either 
immediate (performed without instrumental causes) or mediate 
(performed through intermediate causes). 

The internal acts, or operations, of God are again of two 
kinds, personal and essential. The personal internal acts of God 
terminate within the Godhead and pertain to the divine Persons 
by whom they are performed as peculiar to such Persons (genera- 
tion and spiration). The essential internal acts of God also termi- 
nate within the Godhead, but in them the three Persons of the 
Trinity concur. These essential internal operations of God are 
called the eternal decrees of God. Of these there are three : a) the 
decree of creation, b) the decree of redemption, and c) the decree 
of predestination. 

a. The decree of creation is that essential internal act of the 
Triune God "by which He purposed to create in the beginning of 
time heaven and earth and all creatures, for the manifestation of 
His wisdom, goodness, and power" (A. L. Graebner). The decree 
of creation is taught in Job 28, 26. 27; Acts 15, 18; Gen. 1, 26; 
Acts 17,26; Ps. 136,5—9. 

b. The decree of redemption is that essential internal act of 
the Triune God by which He most graciously and wisely purposed 
to redeem fallen and lost mankind through the vicarious atonement 
of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, and thus to prepare 
a way of salvation for the whole world, whose fall He had fore- 
seen, but not decreed. The decree of redemption is taught in 
Acts 2, 23 : "Delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowl- 
edge of God"; Acts 4,28: "To do whatsoever Thy counsel deter- 
mined before to be done" ; Eph. 1, 7 — 10 : "In whom we have re- 
demption through His blood, . . . according to the riches of His 
grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and 
prudence . . . according to His good pleasure which He hath pur- 
posed in Himself" ; 1 Pet. 1, 20 : "Who [the incarnate Son of God, 
our Redeemer] verily was foreordained before the foundation of the 
world" ; Gal. 4, 4. 5 : "When the fulness of time was come, God 
sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to 
redeem them that were under the Law"; John 3, 16: "God so 
loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son," etc. 



c. The decree of predestination is that essential internal act 
of the Triune God by which He from eternity, moved only by His 
grace and the redemption of Jesus Christ, purposed to sanctify and 
save by faith, through the means of grace, all saints who finally 
enter into life eternal. The decree of predestination is taught in 
Eph. 1, 4 : "He has chosen us in Him [Christ] before the founda- 
tion of the world" ; 2 Thess. 2, 13 : "God hath from the beginning 
chosen you to salvation"; Eph. 3, 11: "According to the eternal 
purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus, our Lord"; 2 Tim. 
1, 9 : "Who hath saved us . . . according to His own purpose and 
grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" ; 
Eom. 11, 5: "There is a remnant according to the election of 
grace"; Acts 13,48: "As many as were ordained to eternal life 
believed"; Eom. 8,29. 30: "Whom He did foreknow He also did 
predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son. . . . Whom 
He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, 
them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also 
glorified" ; 1 Pet. 1, 2 : "Elect according to the foreknowledge of 
God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience 
and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ"; Matt. 22, 14 : "Many 
are called, but few are chosen"; Mark 13, 20. 22 : "For the elect's 
sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days ... to 
seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." 

The doctrine of election will be treated at greater length under 
its proper head. Here we refer to it only inasmuch as it belongs 
to the eternal decrees of God. But in passing, we may say that 
from the eternal decree of predestination there must be excluded 
every form of synergism (denial of the sola gratia) and every 
form of Calvinism (denial of the gratia universalis). For this 
reason we affirm a) God did not choose the elect in view of their 
faith (intuitu fidei), and b) God did not predestinate any one to 
damnation, but earnestly desires all men to be saved (vocatio 
seria). The apparent discrepancy between particular election 
(electio particularis) and universal grace (gratia universaiis) we 
acknowledge as a mystery, which is indeed beyond reason, but which 
we should neither criticize nor try to explain. All attempts to 
harmonize the two doctrines have resulted either in synergism (the 
elect were chosen in view of their better conduct, which is opposed 
to Eom. 3, 22. 23) or in Calvinism (God does not desire to save all, 
which is opposed to John 3, 16 ; 2 Cor. 5, 19. 20 ; 2 Pet. 3, 9 ; Acts 
17, 30; 1 Tim. 4, 2). The Formula of Concord rightly says: 




"However, since God has reserved this mystery for His wisdom and 
has revealed nothing to us concerning it in His Word, much less 
commanded us to investigate it with our thoughts, but has earnestly 
discouraged us therefrom, Eom. 11, 33 ff., we should not reason in 
our thoughts, draw conclusions, nor inquire curiously into these 
matters, but should adhere to His revealed Word, to which He 
points us." (Thor.Decl., XI, 55.) 

Dr. A. L. Graebner summarizes the decree of predestination as 
follows: "The decree of predestination is an eternal act of God 
(Eph. 1, 4 ; 3, 11 ; 2 Tim. 1, 9 ; 2 Thess. 2, 13), who for His goodr 
nestf sake (2 Tim. 1, 9; Rom. 9, 11; 11, 5) and because of the 
merit of the foreordained Redeemer of all mankind (Eph. 1, 4; 
3,11) purposed to lead into everlasting life (Acts 13,48; 2 Tim. 
2,10; Eom. 8, 28. 29), by the way and means of salvation desig- 
nated for all mankind (Eph. 1, 4. 5 ; 1 Pet. 1, 2), a certain number 
(Acts 13,48; Matt. 20, 16; 22,14) of certain persons (2 Tim. 
2, 19 ; John 13, 18) and to procure, work, and promote what would 
pertain to their final salvation (Rom. 8, 30 ; Eph. 1, 11 ; 3, 10. 11 ; 
Mark 13, 20. 22)." {Outlines of Doctrinal Theology, § 51.) 




(De Creatione.) 


In contradistinction to pagan pantheism, which regards the 
universe as an emanation from, or a manifestation of, God, so that 
God and the universe are identical, and to pagan dualism, which 
assumes the eternal existence of matter (vXrj ajiogyog, to fir] 6V)> 
fashioned by a deity (yovg, to ov) into this present world, Holy 
Scripture teaches that the Triune God created all things that exist 
outside Himself, i. e., the universe, out of nothing. By "nothing" 
we do not mean any already existing matter (nihil positivum), 
but a state of non-existence (nihil negativum). From Gen. 1, 1, 
Heb. 11, 3, and Eom. 4, 17 we learn that before the creation of the 
world nothing existed but God Himself. Calov writes (III, 899) : 
"Creation does not consist in emanation from the essence of God, 
nor in generation, nor in motion, or natural change, . . . but in 
outward action, by which through infinite power things are pro- 
duced from nothing." (Doctr. Theol., p. 164 f.) Gerhard says 
(IV, 7) : "Away with the dreams of the Stoics, who devised two 
eternal principles, vovg and vktj, mind, or God, and matter, which, 
they imagined, during the ages of eternity was a confused chaos 
and at a certain time was at length brought into form by 'mind.' " 
(Ibid.) Against pantheism, both ancient and modern, Hollaz 
writes thus : "Creation is a free divine action, because God framed 
the universe, not induced thereto by necessity, as though He 
needed the services of creatures, . . . but freely, as He was able 
to create or not, to create and to frame sooner or later, in this or 
in another matter." (Ibid.) The question why God did not create 
the world sooner Hafenreffer describes as a "question of madmen 
curiously inquiring into such things as are of no profit." (Ibid.) 


According to Holy Scripture, God did not create all things 
"at once, but gradually, observing an admirable order" ( ordo crea~ 
tionis). As the first chapter of Genesis affirms, God, in creating 
all things, proceeded from the lower to the higher, until He finally 
made man as the crown of His creative work. In general, the work 
of creation comprises three steps: a) the production, on the first 
day, of the crude material, "which was the germinal source, as it 
were, of the entire universe" (Quenstedt) ; Luther: moles coeli et 
terrae; b) the separation and disposition of simple creatures dur- 



ing the first three days (light on the first day; the firmament on 
the second; the separation of the earth from the waters on the 
third) ; c) the furnishing and completion of the world, which was 
brought to perfection in three more days (the celestial bodies on 
the fourth day; the fish and fowl on the fifth; the creation of 
land animals and of man on the sixth). 

We thus distinguish between immediate and mediate creation, 
the former being the creation of the moles coeli et terrae out of 
nothing and the latter the arrangement of the previously created 

This order of creation must, however, not be interpreted as 
an evolutionary process; for according to Scripture the world was 
not developed by forces resident in matter itself, but by the creative 
power of God. (Gen. 1, 1: "God created"; v. 3: "God said.") 
The creatures thus came into existence through the omnipotent 
command of the personal, transmundane Creator. This truth our 
dogmaticians have expressed by the statement : "The efficient cause 
of creation is God, and He alone" (Calov). Nor can experimental 
science gainsay it, since it can prove neither a development of 
organic things from inorganic ( generatio aequivoca ) nor a develop- 
ment of higher forms from the lower (Deszendenztheorie; Trans- 
mutationshypothese ) . 

Evolution must be rejected as untenable even on rational 
grounds, a) since it does not account for the existence of primeval 
matter and b) since it rests upon a principle disproved by nature, 
namely, on the supposed transmutation of the homogeneous into 
the heterogeneous (transmutation of species). Scripture, on the 
other hand, accords with reason in the following points: a) the 
creation of all things by an omnipotent God; b) the orderly pro- 
cedure in the work of creation; c) the propagation of creatures 
after their kind, Gen. 1, 21. As all creatures came into existence 
through the creative command of God, so they are preserved and 
propagated through the divine omnipotent will, Acts 17, 28. The 
existence of the universe to-day with all its manifold creatures is 
due to the blessing which God pronounced upon the whole creation 
after the completion of His creative work, Gen. 1, 22 ; Col. 1, 17. 


Holy Scripture teaches distinctly that the whole universe was 
created within six days of twenty-four hours each (hexaemeron). 
To change the six days into a mere moment (Athanasius, Angus- 



tine, Hilary) or to expand them into periods of millions of years 
is equally contrary to Scripture. (Gen. 1, 31 ; 2, 2 ; Ex. 20, 9. 11 : 
"Six days shalt thou labor. . . . For in six days the Lord made 
heaven and earth.") Since the Mosaic creation record is the only 
authentic report which we have of the miracle of creation (no man 
was present at the creation, and no one can show from the now 
existing world how it once sprang into existence), we must regard 
every attempt to correct or supplement the record of Genesis as 
unscientific pretense. Evolution proper is atheistic and immoral, 
while theistic evolution is neither in accord with Scripture nor 
with the basic principles of evolution proper. To deny the inspired 
character of the Book of Genesis means to contradict the testimony 
of the divine, omniscient Christ, who accepted also this book as 
canonical, Matt. 19, 4 — 6; John 5,39. 


The First Day. — The expression "In the beginning" (n^tqa) 
means as much as "when this world began to be." "There was no 
material of creation (materia ex qua) with respect to the things 
created on the first day" (Quenstedt). Only since things outside 
God have begun to exist, there is a beginning. Before that there 
was no "beginning," because God has no beginning, Ps. 90, 1. 2, 
and outside Him there was nothing. Time and space must there- 
fore be traced to God's omnipotent fiat of creation ; they are crea- 
tures of the infinite God. The words "In the beginning," Gen. 1, 1, 
correspond to the same words (iv dgxfj) in John 1, 1; only the 
Book of Genesis records what God then did, while the Gospel of 
John informs us who existed in the beginning (the Father and 
the Son). 

The expression "heaven and earth" is a Scriptural designa- 
tion of the universe (das Weltall), or the "all" (rd ndvxa), of which 
St. Paul speaks in Col. 1, 17 and Acts 17, 24: "the world and all 
things therein." However, since the divine record in Genesis de- 
scribes in detail the creation of the various creatures out of the 
original substance (mediate creation), we rightly understand the 
expression to denote the rudis moles coeli et terrae, or the crude 
material, which was the "germinal source of the entire universe." 
Together with the earth, God created the water, since this sur- 
rounded the earth, Gen. 1, 2. 

The term heaven must not be taken in the sense of a "highest 
heaven" (empyrean, coelum empyrium), a supposed region of 



pure fire, in which God dwells with the angels and saints (papists, 
Calvinists). Quenstedt rightly calls this supposed empyrean 
a merum figmentum. The expression heaven and earth in Gen. 1, 1 
(n?j? n *P n **), as just stated, simply denotes the Weltstoff, 

to borrow a term of modern dogmatics. 

The term tohuvabohu *nn), which our Authorized Ver- 
sion translates "without form and void," in Jer. 4, 23 denotes 
a desolate country. In Gen. 1, 2, however, it denotes the chaotic 
condition of all created things before God's creative hand had 
separated and arranged them in order. The theory that Gen. 1, 1 
reports the restitution of a world previously created, but destroyed 
at the fall of the evil angels (Kurtz), has no Scriptural foundation 
whatever and must be rejected as a figment of human speculation. 

The 'light," which God created on the first day, was the ele- 
mental light, to which He on the fourth day added the "two great 
lights in the firmament" to govern day and night, summer and 
winter, seed-time and harvest, Gen. 1, 14. According to Scripture, 
light existed before the celestial bodies. "By the word of His power 
God created light, elemental light, brought it into being in the 
midst of the darkness, and commanded it to shine out of darkness, 
2 Cor. 4, 6. Ever since the first day of the world the regular re- 
currence of darkness and light marks the period of one day, as 
we now divide it into twenty-four hours." (Kretzmann, Pop. 
Com., I, 2.) 

The Second Day. — On the second day, God created the ex- 
pansion, or the "firmament" QTP'J), by which is meant not the 
stratum of atmosphere above the earth, but rather the visible vault 
of the sky (Luther). According to Gen. 1,6 — 8 the "firmament" 
divides the waters above and those below it, so that we must con- 
ceive of waters beyond the visible vault of the sky. The creation 
report everywhere exhibits God's omnipotent power and majesty, 
but does not answer all questions which the ever-curious mind of 
man is inclined to put. 

The Third Day. — On the third day, God gathered the waters 
under the heaven together unto one place, so that the dry land 
appeared. "God here finished His creative work on inanimate 
matter, when His almighty command bade the waters from below 
the heavens, below the firmament which He had constructed, be 
gathered together into a single place, by themselves. In chaos the 
mixture of solids and liquids had been so complete as to preclude 
the designation 'dry land/ But now the solids and liquids were to 



be separated, so that dry land as we know it was visible." (Kretz- 
mann, Pop. Com., I, 2.) As soon as God caused the dry land to 
appear, He adorned it "with grass and herb yielding seed after 
his kind and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after 
his kind," Gen. 1, 12 (the law of propagation). According to 
Scripture the plants were before the seed, since God created mature 
plants, "yielding seed." 

The Fourth Day. — On the fourth day, God created the sun, 
moon, and stars, Gen. 1, 14 if. The "matter out of which" (materia 
ex qua) God made the celestial bodies is not stated; but the holy 
writer describes their purpose (finis cuius) and the recipients 
(finis cui) of their blessings, Gen. 1, 14 — 18. While Holy Scrip- 
ture does not teach an astronomical system, nevertheless it stresses 
the following truths: a) The earth was before the sun, just as also 
the light was before the sun. b) The earth does not serve the sun, 
but, vice versa, the sun serves the earth, and both the sun and the 
earth serve man, who has been created for the purpose of serving 
God. Within the bounds of these basic truths all astronomical ideas 
of the Christian theologian must be confined. All so-called astro- 
nomical systems suggested by men rest upon hypotheses, which are 
beyond positive proof. Over against the astronomical systems of 
scientists the Christian theologian must therefore maintain: 
a) Scripture never errs, not even in matters of science, John 10, 35 ; 
2 Tim. 3, 16. b) Scripture accommodates itself to human concep- 
tions, but never to human errors, since it is always truth, John 
17, 17. c) We know so little concerning astronomical data that it 
is both foolish and unscientific to supplement, correct, or criticize 
Scripture on the basis of human speculative systems, d) It is 
unworthy of our Christian calling to discard the inerrant Word of 
Scripture in favor of the "assured results" of science falsely so 
called. Hence in a controversy on this point a Christian must 
always maintain the divine authority of Scripture. But he must 
not believe that by convincing an unbeliever of the truth of the 
Mosaic narrative he may convert him, since conversion is accom- 
plished only through the preaching of the Law and the Gospel. 

The Fifth Day. — On the fifth day, God created "the moving 
creature that hath life" in the water and the "fowl that may fly 
above the earth," Gen. 1, 20. 21. While the materia ex qua of the 
first was water, that of the second is not stated directly. Neverthe- 
less the matter out of which these and other creatures were made 



was in no wise self -creative (evolution). Materia est principium 
passivum; non concurrit cum Deo ad aliquid creandum. 

The Sixth Day. — On the last day, God created both "the 
beasts of the earth" and, as the crown of His creative work, man, 
Gen. 1, 24. 27. The question whether animals and plants which 
after the Fall have become injurious to man were created at this 
time may be answered as follows : They were indeed created within 
the six creation days, but their functions were in complete accord 
with man's well-being. Even to-day the "harmful things" (poi- 
sonous plants and minerals) may be used by man for his benefit. 
However, since before the Fall nature was not yet under the curse 
and corruption of sin, even these creatures yielded to man their 
willing service. 

The supreme glory of man, as the crown of creation, appears 
from the following facts: a) Man's creation was preceded by 
a divine consultation in which the three Persons of the Godhead 
concurred, Gen. 1, 26. b) While all creatures came into existence 
through the almighty divine word, God formed the body of man 
out of the dust of the ground, Gen. 2, 7, and breathed into his 
nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living soul, 
Gen. 2, 7b. c) God made man an intelligent and rational being 
to rule in His stead over the world, which was created for him by 
the beneficent Creator, Gen. 2, 7b; 1,28. d) God made man in 
His own image, so that he was like God in holiness, righteousness, 
and wisdom, Eph. 4, 24; Col. 3, 10. e) God supplied Adam with 
a helpmeet, who was made in the divine image and endowed with 
intelligence and an immortal soul, Gen. 2, 22 — 24. 

The question of dichotomy or trichotomy must be decided on 
the basis of such passages as describe man according to his essential 
parts, Matt. 10, 28; 16, 26; Gen. 2, 7. On the basis of these pas- 
sages most Lutheran dogmaticians have declared themselves in 
favor of dichotomy. Passages quoted by trichotomiste are Luke 1, 
46. 47; 1 Thess. 5,23, etc.; but none of these furnishes incontro- 
vertible evidence in proof of trichotomy. That Scripture uses the 
terms spirit (nvevjua) and soul (ya^) interchangeably is clear from 
the fact that those who have departed this life are called either 
spirits (1 Pet. 3, 19), or souls (Rev. 6, 9). Dichotomy certainly 
offers less difficulty in explaining the phenomena of human exis- 
tence in general. 

The Mosaic narrative of the creation of the world must not 
be regarded as an allegory or myth, but must be taken as a true 



historical account of actual happenings. Only a literal interpre- 
tation is fair to the text. 

According to Holy Scripture, creation was that free act of 
the Triune God by which "in the beginning, for His own glory, 
He made, without the use of preexisting materials, the whole visible 
and invisible universe" (Strong). This doctrine stands in close 
relation to God's holiness and benevolence, Rom. 8, 20 — 23; 2 Cor. 
4, 15 — 17, as well as to His wisdom and free will, Ps. 104, 24; 
136, 5. Those who deny the doctrine of creation as taught in 
Scripture may as well deny also the Scriptural doctrine of redemp- 
tion, since the account of the former is no less inspired than is the 
account of the latter. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of 
God," 2 Tim. 3, 16, and Christ's command is to accept as divine 
truth the whole Bible, John 5, 39 ; 10, 35. 


On the basis of Scripture we maintain that Adam, created by 
God on the sixth day of the hexaemeron, was the first of all men 
and the parent of the entire human race throughout the whole 
world, 1 Cor. 15, 45. 47; Gen. 2, 5; Acts 17, 26; Rom. 5, 12. 
Hence we reject the error of Isaac Peyrere (1655), who taught 
that, while the Jews descended from Adam, Gen. 2, 7ff., the Gen- 
tiles came from preadamites, Gen. 1, 26 ff., so that they date back 
to ages before the creation of the ancestor of the Jews. But the 
Mosaic narrative allows the assumption neither of preadamites nor 
of coadamites, since it teaches most emphatically that Adam is the 
parent of all men, Acts 17, 26. With this doctrine agree also the 
conclusions of outstanding anthropologists, who, on grounds apart 
from divine revelation, have affirmed the unity of the human race 
(Alexander von Humboldt). 

While Adam was created first and independently, Gen. 2, 18, 
Eve was created dependency from Adam, a complete rational indi- 
vidual, taken from man according to soul and body, Gen. 2, 21 — 24. 
The rib from which God built ( n ^) Eve, must not be understood 
as a mere rib, but as a living, vital substance, including everything 
of which she consisted essentially, Gen. 2, 23 ; Acts 17, 26. (Cp. Lu- 
ther's explanation, St. L., I, 157.) While Eve was Adam's equal 
in the enjoyment of the divine blessings, both temporal and spir- 
itual, her social status was one of subordination to Adam, for 
whose sake she was created, Gen. 2, 18; 1 Cor. 14, 34 — 36; 1 Tim. 
2, 11—15. 





a. While Holy Scripture informs us exactly how and when man 
was created, it gives us no account whatever concerning the crea- 
tion of the angels. Nevertheless they, too, were made within the 
hexaemeron, Gen. 2, 1. 2. Since Scripture reveals to us everything 
that is necessary for salvation, we should not try to supplement the 
divine record by human speculation. 

b. Whether Moses received the facts recorded in his narrative 
by immediate revelation or through oral tradition is immaterial. 
Since the Book of Genesis is canonical, it is divinely inspired, 
2 Tim. 3, 16; John 10,35, and therefore contains God's own ac- 
count concerning the beginning of the world and the human race. 

c. The two creation narratives of Genesis (chaps. 1 and 2) are 
not contradictory records (Jean Astruc, f 1766), but chap. 2 rather 
supplements the account of chap. 1. In Gen. 1 we have a general 
description of the work of creation, while Gen. 2 brings the fact of 
creation in relation to the history of God's Church in the Old 
Testament. For this reason Gen. 2 is both supplementary and ex- 
planatory. (Cp. D\ite in Gen. 1; and n % rf>x njrp in Gen. 2.) The 
history of the Church of God, the Creator (D'n^K), which is begun 
in Gen. 2, is therefore narrated as that of the Church of Jehovah 
(rnrr) ? the eternal Lord of His people. 

d. As the soul of Eve was produced by propagation from Adam, 
so, it is generally held among Lutheran dogmaticians, the souls of 
children are produced by propagation rather than by direct crea- 
tion (traducianism, not creationism). "The soul of the first man 
was immediately created by God ; but the soul of Eve was produced 
by propagation, and the souls of the rest of men are created not 
daily, . . . but by virtue of the divine blessing are propagated, per 
traducem, by their parents." (Quenstedt.) Traducianism is in- 
ferred: a) from the primeval blessing of God, Gen. 1,28; 9,1; 
b) from God's rest and cessation from all work on the seventh day, 
Gen. 2, 2; c) from the production of the soul of Eve, Gen. 2, 
21.22; d) from the general description of generation, Gen. 5, 3; 
e) from Ps. 51, 5, etc. 

e. The act of creation must be regarded as a free act of God 
(actio libera), so that God was not compelled to create the world 
by any inner necessity of His divine essence, Ps. 115, 3. To say 
that the act of creation was a necessary divine act (actio necessaria) 
would be tantamount to pantheism and nullify the very concept 
of a personal, sovereign God. 



f . While Holy Scripture assures us that the universe as it came 
forth from the creative hand of God was "very good" (Gen. 1, 31 : 
"i«D nitD) ? it would be folly to affirm that the world as created by 
God was the very best that God could have made (the "optimism" 
of Leibniz). We must judge this world by God's own standards, 
as these are presented to us in His Word. For this reason we say 
that the world was very good in the sense that it accorded perfectly 
with the divine will or that it was just as God desired it to be. 


Creation, as an opus ad extra, is the work of the Triune God. 
Hence it is ascribed to the Father (1 Cor. 8, 6), to the Son (Heb. 
1,10; John 1,3; Col. 1, 16), and to the Holy Ghost (Gen. 1,2; 
Ps. 33, 6). Yet, though the Three Persons of the Trinity con- 
curred in this work, the creative power, or omnipotence, to which 
the universe owes its existence, is numerically one (una numero 
potentia), so that we must not speak of three creators, but only of 
one, John 5, 17. "Creation is an action of the one God. . . . It is 
likewise an action of God alone, which neither ought to be, nor 
can be, ascribed to any creature." (Chemnitz.) Nor must we speak 
of a distribution of the one divine power among the Three Persons, 
as if the Father performed a third, the Son a third, and the Holy 
Ghost a third of the creative work. Holy Scripture never distrib- 
utes the divine creative act among the Three Persons, though at 
times it appropriates it to a distinct divine person (cf. passages 

Again, when Scripture occasionally declares that all things 
were made by the Father through the Son or the Holy Ghost, 
Ps. 33, 6, this "must not be construed into any inequality of per- 
sons, as the Arians blasphemously asserted that the Son was God's 
instrument in creation, just as the workman uses an ax" (Chem- 
nitz) ; but this mode of speaking rather indicates the mystery of 
the Holy Trinity, according to which the Son has His divine es- 
sence and divine power eternally from the Father and the Holy 
Ghost has His divine essence and divine power eternally from the 
Father and Son. 

Chemnitz rightly remarks respecting this point {Loci Theol., 
1, 115) : "The prepositions (and, did, h) do not divide the nature, 
but express the properties of a nature that is on? and uncon- 
founded." Likewise Hollaz says : "The three Persons of the 
Godhead are not three associated causes, not three Authors of 



creation, but one Cause, one Author of creation, one Creator.'* 
Flacius : "Vox autem per non significat hie instrumentum, bed 
primakiam causam." Luther : "It is the way of Scripture to say : 
The world was made through Christ by the Father and in the 
Holy Ghost, . . . It employs this manner of speaking to indicate 
that the Father has His divine essence not from the Son, but, 
vice versa, that the Son has it from the Father, He being the first 
and original Person in the Godhead. Hence it does not say that 
Christ has made the world through the Father, but that the Father 
made it through the Son, so that the Father remains the First 
Person, and from Him, yet through the Son, all things appear. 
So John says (John 1, 3) : 'All things were made by Him'; and 
in Col. 1, 16 we read: 'All things were created by Him and for 
Him'; and Kom. 11,36: 'For of Him and through Him and to 
Him are aU things."' (St.L., XII, 157 ft.) Chemnitz adds this 
warning (Loci TheoL, I, 115) : "We must not dispute too curi- 
ously concerning the distinction of Persons in the work of creation, 
but let us be content with the revelation that all things were created 
by the eternal Father, through the Son, while the Holy Ghost 
hovered over them. (Rom. 11, 36.)" (Doctr. Theol, p. 162 ff.) 


According to Holy Scripture the ultimate end of creation is 
the glory of God ; in other words, the world was created ultimately 
for God's own sake, Prov. 16, 4, or for His glory, Ps. 104, Iff. For 
this reason not only men, but all creatures are exhorted to praise 
God, Ps. 148. By His creation God manifested in particular: 
a) His goodness, Ps. 136; b) His power, Ps. 115; c) His wisdom, 
Ps. 19, Iff.; 104, 24; 136, 5. The objection offered here that it is 
an unworthy conception of God to regard Him as having made all 
things for His own glory is a) anti-Scriptural, since Holy Scrip- 
ture teaches this very truth, Kom. 11, 36; b) unreasonable, since it 
measures God by human standards ; c) atheistic, since it dethrones 
God and puts man in His place; for if the world was not made 
primarily for God's sake, then man himself must be the ultimate 
end of creation. However, while the ultimate end of creation is 
the glory of God, the intermediate end of creation is the benefit 
of man, Ps. 115, 15. 16. Quenstedt writes (I, 418) : "God made 
all things for the sake of man, but man He made for His own 
sake, Ps. 115, 16; 60, 7. 8." Finis cuius creationis mundi gloria 
Dei; finis cui homo. Macrocosmus in gratiam microcosmi con- 
ditus est. 




(De Providentia Dei.) 


As God has created the world, so He also sustains it and 
continually cares for all His creatures, particularly man. Just 
that is what we mean when we speak of God's providence (provi- 
dentia, Tigovoia, dioixrjois). Augustine says: "God is not a work- 
man who, when he has completed his work, leaves it to itself and 
goes his way." Gerhard : "God, the Creator of all, did not desert 
the work which He framed; but by His omnipotence up to the 
present time preserves it, and by His wisdom He rules and con- 
trols all things in it." 

While the fact of divine providence may be known by men 
from the contemplation of nature, Eom. 1, 19. 20; Acts 14, 17, and 
of history, Acts 17, 26 — 28, Holy Scripture, because of the blind- 
ness and perverseness of the human mind, Is. 1, 2. 3, teaches it with 
great emphasis and much detail, Matt. 6, 25 — 32. Gerhard 
(IV, 52) writes: "The knowledge of divine providence sought 
from the book of nature is weak and imperfect, not from the fault 
of nature itself, but from that of our mind; but more certain and 
perfect is the knowledge of divine providence which is obtained 
from Scripture." (Doctr. Theol, p. 174.) The Christian theo- 
logian regards Scripture as the only source (principium cogno- 
scendi) of also this doctrine. 

The providence of God manifests itself in particular: a) in 
His gracious preservation of all creatures (conservatio) ; b) in His 
gracious cooperation with all that occurs (concursus) ; c) in His 
gracious direction and government of the whole universe (guber- 
natio). We therefore distinguish as special acts of divine provi- 
dence: God's preservation, Ps. 36, 6; God's concurrence, Acts 
17, 28; and God's government, Jer. 10, 23; Prov. 20, 24. A com- 
plete definition of divine providence therefore reads: "Divine 
providence is the external act of the entire Trinity ( opus ad extra ) 
whereby God a) most efficaciously upholds the things created, both 
as an entirety and singly, both in species and in individuals; 
b) concurs in their actions and effects; and c) freely and wisely 
governs all things to His own glory and the welfare and safety of 
the universe, especially of the godly." 

The act of divine providence includes the preservation of all 



creatures not only in their being, Acts 17, 28; Col. 1, 17, but also 
in their activities, Matt. 5, 45 ; Acts 14,17; Ps. 104, 10— 30. In 
other words, the creatures have not only their being in God, but 
also perform their functions through Him. For this reason our 
dogmaticians have called the preservation of the world ( conservatio 
mundi) a continuous creation (creatio continuata). Eightly under- 
stood, this expression is Scriptural. While divine providence is 
the work of the Triune God, it is of special comfort to all believers 
that Holy Scripture ascribes the preservation and government of 
the world especially to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whom 
God has made the Head of His Church, Heb. 1, 3; Col. 1, 17; 
Eph. 1, 20—23. 


According to Holy Scripture divine providence embraces not 
only the universe in general, Col. 1, 17, but also all creatures indi- 
vidually: a) plants, Matt. 6, 28 — 30; b) animals, Matt. 6, 26; 
c) men, Acts 17, 26; Ps. 33, 12 — 15. The special object of divine 
providence according to Scripture is the Christian Church, for 
whose sake all things exist and whose welfare all must serve, Eom. 
8, 28; Heb. 1, 14; Matt. 16, 18. All objections raised against the 
Scriptural truth that divine providence embraces all things, even 
the least, Matt. 10, 30; Luke 21, 18; 12, 6, for example, that God 
would be too heavily burdened by caring for all things or that the 
small affairs of life in that case would receive undue emphasis in 
comparison with the important matters, must be rejected as per- 
verse notions of the carnal and unbelieving heart, which destroy 
the very concept of God; for just because God is God, does He 
care for all things, Acts 17, 28. 


In His cooperating providence, God employs secondary causes 
(causae secundae), or means by which He preserves and directs 
the things which He has made. This is what we mean when we 
speak of divine concurrence. The relation of divine providence to 
such secondary means must be carefully noted; for in the divine 
act of concurrence both God works and the means (causae secun- 
dae) work. However, the operation of the means is not coordinate 
with that of God, but rather subordinate to it, so that the secondary 
causes work only so far and so long as God works through them, 



Ps. 127, 1. To emphasize this truth, our dogmaticians have said 
that the divine concurrence is not previous (actio praevia), but 
the operation of God and that of the means is numerically one 
(una numero actio). In other words, God concurs, but He does 
not precur; He cooperates, but does not "preoperate." "Con- 
currence is not antecedent, but occurs when the action itself is 
produced." (Hollaz.) Thus bread nourishes, medicine cures, water 
quenches thirst, etc., only because of God's continuous influence 
upon His creatures (Dei continuus in creaturas influxus). It is 
for this reason that God is called the First Cause (causa prima) 
and the creature the second cause (causa secunda), though the 
action of God and that of the creature is simultaneous. This is 
the Scriptural doctrine of divine concurrence, which is as much 
opposed to deism as it is to pantheism. 

With respect to the laws of nature, Scripture teaches that they 
are not detached from the divine will, but are simply God's will 
exerted in the being and action of the creatures in order that they 
may be preserved both in their existence and operation. Scripture 
acknowledges no immutable laws of nature apart from the divine 
will ; for while they may be immutable to feeble man, they are not 
immutable to the omnipresent God, who by His almighty power 
governs all things according to His will, Ps. 115, 3; 135, 6. 


With respect to the divine concurrence in the actions of moral 
agencies (men, angels) a distinction must be made between good 
and evil acts. With regard to evil acts (sins) Scripture teaches 
a) that God in His perfect holiness is so unalterably opposed to 
every evil work that He absolutely forbids and condemns it 
(Decalog) ; b) that God frequently prevents evil acts from occur- 
ring, Gen. 20, 6 ; and c) that, whenever He permits them to happen, 
He so controls them that they must serve His wise and holy pur- 
poses, Gen. 50, 20 ; Kom. 8, 28. Nevertheless the question remains : 
<f How does God cooperate in evil actions that actually do occur ?" 
On the one hand, we cannot say that these acts are done without 
God, for this would deny His divine concurrence (atheism) ; on the 
other hand, however, we must not ascribe to God these acts in so 
far as they are evil (pantheism). In other words, the divine con- 
currence makes God neither the author of, nor an accomplice in, 
evil acts. 

The difficulty is satisfactorily removed if we bear in mind the 



dividing-line which Scripture here suggests; for while it is true 
that God concurs in evil acts, He concurs in them only in so far 
as they are acts (quoad materiale), not in so far as they are 
evil (quoad formale). "God concurs in producing the 'effect/ 
but not the 'defect/ " The proof for the first (quoad materiale) 
is given in Acts 17,25 — 28; for men live, move, and have their 
being in God, and receive life, breath, and all things from Him, 
not only when they do good, but also when they do evil. The 
second (quoad formale) is proved from Deut. 32, 4; Ps. 92, 15, etc.; 
for there it is stated that the "Lord is upright" and that "there 
is no unrighteousness in Him." God's work is perfect; for He 
is "a God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is He." 

Of course, this does not explain the whole mystery in divine 
concurrence, but it shows us within what confines we must restrict 
our thoughts on this matter. Speculations that go beyond this 
either result in self-deception, or they deny the truths of Scripture 
(Acts 17,28: God's providence; Deut. 32, 4: His righteousness). 
The doctrine that man alone is responsible for his evil deeds though 
God concurs in them must be strenuously maintained on grounds 
of both Scripture and conscience. The pantheistic error that God 
must be held accountable for human transgression is repudiated 
not only by Scripture, but also by man's own conscience (Rom. 
2, 15 : "their thoughts accusing"). 

Holy Scripture describes God's concurrence in evil actions also 
as permission (permissive providence). We therefore speak Scrip- 
turally when we say: "God permits evil, or suffers it to occur," 
Ps. 81, 12; Acts 14, 16; Rom. 1, 28, etc. As Hollaz rightly points 
out, such permission is a) not kind indulgence, as though it did 
not offend God when men commit sin; b) nor a mitigation of 
the Law, as though God granted men license to sin under certain 
circumstances; c) nor a weakness in God or a defect of knowledge 
or power on His part, as though He were ignorant of it or could 
not check it; d) nor indifference to sin, as though God were an 
unconcerned witness of it; but e) a negative act, inasmuch as God 
does not place insuperable difficulties in the way of the sinner, but 
allows him to rush into iniquity, Matt. 26, 23. "God indeed per- 
mits, but does not will that which He permits." (Quenstedt.) 
Frequently also God, in His most righteous judgment (iustitia 
vindicativa), punishes sin with sin, Rom. 1,24 — 28. But even in 
these cases He neither wills the original evil act, nor has He plea- 



sure in the superadded sin. God is never the cause or abetter of 
sin, Ps. 5, 4—6 ; Rom. 1, 18 f. 

With respect to God's concurrence in good acts we must dis- 
tinguish between acts that are done a) in His Kingdom of Power 
(regnum potentiae) and b) in His Kingdom of Grace (regnum 
gratiae). The first are civilly good works (iustitia dvilis) and the 
second spiritually good works (iustitia spiritualis). The iustitia 
civilis God works in the unregenerate by His almighty government 
of all things (regnum potentiae) and rewards it with earthly and 
temporal blessings, Ex. 1, 20. 21. The iustitia spiritucdis God 
works in the regenerate by the gracious operation of the Holy 
Ghost, who bestows not only the ability to do good (potentia 
agendi), but also works the good act itself (ipsum agendi actum), 
as Scripture clearly testifies, Phil. 2, 13; 2 Cor. 3, 5; Phil. 1, 29. 


Although men live, move, and have their being in God, they 
remain free, or self-determining, beings, who are personally re- 
sponsible to God for whatever they do (libertas a coactione, free- 
dom from coercion). This truth is taught in Scripture, Acts 
17, 30, and is supported by experience. (Rom. 1, 32 : "Who, know- 
ing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are 
worthy of death.") 

In this connection we may consider also the question : "Must 
things happen just as they do happen (necessitas immutabilitatis), 
or could they happen otherwise (contingentia rerum)f On the 
basis of Scripture we maintain both the necessitas immutabilitatis 
and the contingentia rerum; the first, from the viewpoint of divine 
providence; the second, from the viewpoint of human respon- 
sibility. Thus the betrayal, condemnation, and death of Christ 
had to occur since God by His gracious plan of salvation had de- 
creed all this to happen from eternity, Acts 4, 27. 28; 'Matt. 26, 54. 
Yet neither Judas nor Pilate was coerced by God to perpetrate the 
crimes by which the Savior was delivered into death, Luke 22, 
21 — 23; Matt. 26, 24; John 19,12. For this reason our dogma- 
ticians have said: Ratione providentiae Dei, quae omnia regit, 
necessario omnia fieri recte dicuntur; respectu hominis libere et 
contingenter res fiunt et aguntur omnia in rebus humanis. If the 
necessitas is denied, the alternative is atheism or epicureanism 




("Things happen without God") ; if the coniingentia is denied, 
the alternative is fatalism or Stoicism ("Man is coerced to sin"). 

In view of the fact that "with respect to man all things happen 
freely and contingently" (respectu hominis Ixbere et conting enter 
res fiunt), man is bound, both in the realm of nature and of grace, 
to the means which God has appointed for his welfare. In bodily 
sickness he must apply medicine; for the sickness of his soul he 
must apply the means of grace (the Word and the Sacraments), 
through which God works and preserves faith, Bom. 10, 17. It is 
both foolish and sinful to try to ascertain divine providence a priori, 
by setting aside the divinely prescribed means ; for in that case we 
arrogantly endeavor to explore God in His sovereign majesty 
(Luther: in nuda maiestate) and thus tempt Him, Matt. 4, 6. 7. 

Similar to the truth just discussed is the question concerning 
the end of human life (terminus vitae). Also here we must main- 
tain both the necessity and the contingency. For Scripture teaches, 
on the one hand, that the days of a man are so determined that he 
cannot pass the appointed bounds, Job 14, 5; this is said with 
respect to divine providence (ratione providentiae Dei). On the 
other hand, Scripture teaches that God often changes the natural 
limit of human life with respect both to the godly and the wicked. 
He prolongs the life of the godly either as a reward for their obe- 
dience, Ex. 20, 12 ; Prov. 3, 1. 2 ; 4, 10, or for the common good of 
His Church, 2 Cor. 1, 10. 11 ; Phil. 1, 23. 24; or He shortens their 
life to preserve them from distress and evil, Is. 57, 1. 2. Whenever 
God shortens the life of the wicked, this is to be regarded as a just 
punishment for their wickedness, Gen. 38, 7. 10. All this, however, 
is said respectu hominis, or from the viewpoint of contingency. 

From the viewpoint of contingency (respectu hominis) we 
must therefore say that the limit of human life is not absolutely 
and immutably decreed, Is. 38, 5. For the sake of clearness our 
dogmaticians have also said that men die either by the dispensing 
or by the permissive providence of God; that is to say, if men 
use the prescribed means (Acts 27, 33 ff. : food; 1 Tim. 5, 23: 
medicine; Eph. 6, 2. 3: piety; 2 Kings 20, 1 — 6: prayer; Acts 
9, 25: avoidance of danger, etc.), they will by the grace of God 
attain to that limit of life which His dispensing providence has 
fixed ; but if they reject the prescribed means, transgress His divine 
laws, and live wickedly, their life will be shortened by His per- 
missive providence, 2 Sam. 18, 14; 17, 23; Gen. 9, 6; Ex. 
21, 12, etc. All Scripture-passages that describe the terminus vitae 



in terms of contingency must be regarded as a gracious conde- 
scension on the part of God to our feeble understanding in order 
that we may use for our admonition or consolation the divine 
truths which He has graciously revealed for our temporal and 
eternal good. But even in cases where life is shortened or length- 
ened, God must not be regarded as mutable in His essence or 
decrees, since what appears to us as either shortening or length- 
ening of life has been decreed by Him from eternity. In other 
words, man dies exactly when God has willed that he should die, 
Luke 12,20; 2,26; Phil. 1, 23. 24; Judg. 6,23; Ps. 90, 3— 10. 
Beyond this our thoughts dare not go since Scripture itself sets 
this limit. 




(De Angelis.) 


The doctrine of the holy angels must be drawn not from 
reason, according to which their existence is at best only probable, 
but alone from Scripture, which from Genesis to Eevelation teaches 
their existence, Gen. 3, 24; 32,1.2; Ps. 104,4; Rev. 12,7, In 
other words, also of this doctrine Scripture is the only prindpvum 
cognoscendi. Modern rationalistic theology rejects the doctrine of 
the angels ("There is no personal devil. Even the existence of 
good angels cannot be proved"), just because it has discarded Scrip- 
ture as the only source of faith. 

However, while Holy Scripture clearly teaches the existence 
of angels, it does not state definitely the time of their creation, 
though this was within the hexaemeron. Certainly the angels were 
not created before the world, since prior to the creation no crea- 
ture existed, John 1, 1 — 3 ; Col. 1, 16. Nor were they created after 
the sixth day of creation, since God on that day ceased to create, 
Gen. 2, 2. 3. Scripture informs us definitely that on the sixth day 
"the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them," 
Gen. 2, 1, which certainly includes the angels. 


The term angel &yyeXog), by which Holy Scripture 

designates this class of creatures, does not describe their essence, 
but their office (nomen officii) and signifies "one sent," or a mes- 
senger. The nature of the angels is described by the term spirit 
(nvev/ua). That the name angel is a designation of office is clear 
from the fact that Scripture ascribes it a) to ministers of the 
divine Word, Mai. 2, 7; Matt. 11, 10, and b) to the Son of God, 
the "uncreated Angel," as the supreme and unique Messenger of 
God, Mai. 3, 1 ; John 3, 17. 34 ; Is. 63, 9 ; Gen. 48, 16, etc. The 
important question, "When does the Scriptural expression Angel 
of the Lord (nirr ?I^>D) denote the Angelas increatus, or Christ ?" 
our dogmaticians answer as follows : "Whenever the name Jehovah 
or divine works and worship are ascribed to the Angel in Scripture, 
then this Angel must be understood to be the Son of God." 




The angels are spirits (^vev^iaza), that is, spiritual beings, who 
are without any bodily form whatsoever. To ascribe to them even 
an ethereal corporeity, as has been done in ancient and modern 
times, is opposed to Luke 24, 39 and Eph. 6, 12, where corporealness 
is absolutely denied to spirits. The bodies in which angels from 
time to time appeared to men, Gen. 18, 2 ; 19, 1, were only assumed 
(unto accidentalis). The consumption of food by angels, Gen. 18, 8; 
19, 3, must be regarded neither as a natural eating nor as a mere 
form, but as an act which is as incomprehensible to us as is their 
temporary assumption of an accidental body. "Homines edunt et 
bibunt ob egestatem, angeli autem instar flammae consumunt cibum 
ob ipoientuim" says J. A. Osiander. The temporary consumption of 
food like the temporary assumption of a body served to convince the 
persons to whom they appeared of their true presence. While the 
angels are nvEVfxaxa, Heb. 1, 14, and God is nvevfjLa, John 4, 24, yet 
the difference between the angels and God is as vast as is that 
between the finite creature and the infinite Creator. In contra- 
distinction to the human soul, which is an incomplete spirit 
(spiritus incompletus), because it has been created as an essential 
part of man in union with the body, the angels are complete 
spirits (spvritus completi), because they exist properly as spirits. 
In contradistinction to God, the infinite Creator, the angels are 
finite creatures. Like men in this respect they are real persons 
(vnoordoeis), endowed with intelligence and will, Eph. 3, 10 ; Heb. 
1, 14. Intelligence and will may be predicated also of the fallen 
angels, Gen. 3 ; Matt. 4, though their mind is perverse and their 
will depraved. According to Scripture the angels, though being 
immaterial beings, can nevertheless react upon the bodies of men, 
Gen. 19, 16; Matt. 4, 5, much in the same manner as the human 
soul reacts upon the body. Since the angels are intelligent beings, 
they are capable of becoming acquainted both with one another and 
with men, Luke 1, 13. 19. Yet they know only as creatures, not as 
God, so that omniscience and prescience must be denied to them. 
Whatever knowledge they have they possess a) by virtue of their 
peculiar nature (2 Sam. 14, 20: natural knowledge) ; b) by divine 
revelation (1 Pet. 1, 12; Luke 2, 9 — 12: revealed knowledge); 
c) by the beatific vision which they enjoy (Matt. 18, 10: beatific 

Since the angels are spiritual beings, we ascribe to them the 



following attributes: a) indivisibility, which is due to their in- 
corporeity, or immateriality; b) invisibility, which is a conse- 
quence of their spirituality; c) immutability, inasmuch as they 
are not subject to physical changes: they do not beget, nor are 
they begotten, Matt. 22, 30 ; they are neither increased nor dimin- 
ished ; they neither grow old, nor do they decay ; and yet they are 
not absolutely immutable, as God is, but only relatively, or in 
relation to men; d) immortality, inasmuch as they do not die, 
though God could annihilate them if He so willed; e) endless 
duration, inasmuch as they have a beginning, but not an end, Matt. 
18,10; Jude 6; f) illocality, because as incorporeal beings they 
occupy no space, but are present at a certain place definitely (in ubi 
definitivo), though not omnipresently like God, who is everywhere 
present repletively ; g) agility or velocity, inasmuch as they are 
able to change the "where" of their presence with extreme celerity, 
though without local motion, such as must be predicated of mate- 
rial bodies. 

As intelligent beings the angels moreover possess freedom of 
will and, in view of the service for which they are designed, great 
power. The will of angels is free with respect both to a) imma- 
nent acts, such as choosing or rejecting, Jude 6, and b) external 
acts, such as moving about, speaking, praising God, etc., Luke 2, 
9 — 15. Though the evil angels, being declared enemies of God, 
cannot but oppose Him, yet they do so of their own free will, 
John 8, 44. The power of the angels is very great, Ps. 103, 20 ; 
2 Thess. 1,7; 2 Kings 19, 35 ; yet it is a finite power, completely 
under the control of God, Job 1, 12. While their power is super- 
human, Ps. 91, 11. 12, or greater than that of man, Luke 11, 21. 22, 
they are not omnipotent, but subject to God, who rules over them, 
Dan. 7, 10. While, strictly speaking, only God performs miracles 
(Ps. 72, 18), nevertheless Holy Scripture teaches that the good 
angels (2 Kings 19,35) and the prophets (2 Kings 6,5.6) and 
apostles (Acts 3, 6 — 12) performed miracles in His name and 
by His divine power (Ex. 15, 23 — 25). Whenever the devil 
performs deeds that to men seem to be miracles (mirdbilia seu 
mira), these are in reality "lying wonders" and "strong delusions," 
with which God permits him to deceive such as "believe not the 
truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness," 2 Thess. 2, 9 — 12. 

The claim that angels once mingled with men by marriage, 
Gen. 6, 2, is as foolish as it is anti-Scriptural, Matt. 22, 30. 




According to Holy Scripture the number of angels is very 
large (Dan. 7, 10: "thousand thousands and ten thousand times 
ten thousand"; Luke 2,13: "a multitude of the heavenly host"; 
Ps. 68, 17: "twenty thousand, even thousands of angels"). All 
these expressions are symbolical numbers, standing for uncounted 
thousands. How great is the goodness of God, who created so 
many holy ministers for the benefit of man ! 

That there are ranks, or orders, among the angels is clear from 
the special names given them in Scripture (Gen. 3, 24: cherubim; 
Is. 6, 2 : seraphim; Col. 1, 16 : thrones, dominions, principalities, 
powers; 1 Thess. 4, 16: archangel). Also among the evil angels 
there are greater and lesser spirits (Matt. 25, 41: "the devil and 
his angels"; Luke 11, 15. 18. 19: "Beelzebub, the chief of the 
devils"). However, we can neither determine the number of the 
angels, nor can we describe the ranks, or orders, among them since 
Holy Scripture does not give us adequate information on this 
subject, nor does it always enumerate the angelic ranks in the 
same order (cp. Col. 1, 16 with Eph. 1, 21), so that we cannot tell 
which is the higher and which the lower. Gregory Nazianzen: 
"Or do angelorum notus est ei, qui ipsos ordinavit." Baier aptly 
Temarks that, while the angels differ from one another with respect 
to rank, they do not differ from one another with respect to kind 
and nature (specie et essentia). In the appointment of ranks, or 
orders, among the angels we witness the wisdom of God, who is not 
"the author of confusion," 1 Cor. 14, 33. 


As to their first estate (status oHginalis) all angels were 
originally created equally righteous, good, and holy ; for they were 
to glorify God and render Him holy service (status gratiae). That 
means that in the beginning all angels were positively good, not 
morally indifferent, nor tainted by a proclivity to evil. This is 
clear from the divine verdict "very good," Gen. 1, 31. That there 
are now two classes of angels, the good and the evil, is due to the 
fact that some angels did not remain in the original state, but of 
their own accord fell away from God into sin. From the state of 
grace (status gratiae) they thus passed into the state of misery 
(status miseriae). 

The good angels are those who persevered in the goodness, 
righteousness, and holiness in which they were first created. They 



have been confirmed by God in that which is good (in bono con- 
firmati) as a gracious reward for their obedience, so that they can 
no longer lose their goodness and become evil (non posse peccare). 
Thus the good angels reached the goal for which they were orig- 
inally created ; for they forever behold God in holy service, having 
passed from the state of grace into the state of glory (status 
gloriae). This truth is taught in Matt. 18, 10; 6,10; 1 Tim. 
5,21; Luke 20,36; Gal. 1, 8. 

Since Scripture identifies the good angels with the "elect 
angels" (1 Tim. 5,21), they persevered in their concreated right- 
eousness and holiness in accord with God's eternal election. How- 
ever, Scripture nowhere teaches that the evil angels fell into sin 
because from eternity they were predetermined to damnation; on 
the contrary, the evil angels left their own habitation, Jude 6, or 
sinned, of their own accord. 

By evil angels we, then, mean those angels who did not per- 
severe in their concreated wisdom and righteousness, but of their 
own free will turned away from God, became perpetual enemies 
of God and man, and have been divinely doomed to be plagued with 
eternal torments (in malo confirmati). The eternal punishment of 
the evil angels is taught in Matt. 25, 41; Kev. 20, 10; 2 Pet. 
2, 4 ; Jude 6. By what special motive the disobedience of the evil 
angels was prompted Scripture does not teach with certainty; but 
it is probable (ratio probabilis) that it was their impious pride 
which moved them to apostatize from God. The time when the 
evil angels first sinned cannot be determined with certainty; but 
their rebellion occurred before the fall of man, since man's fall into 
sin was instigated by the devil, Gen. 3, 1 — 14 ; John 8, 44. That 
the evil angels can never be restored to holiness and happiness is 
a fact known also to them, Matt. 8, 29 and should not be gainsaid 
by men (Universalism), since Scripture emphatically describes the 
fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels as an 
everlasting fire, Matt. 25, 41. While the good angels were con- 
firmed in bliss when they entered into the state of glory, Matt. 
18, 10; 25, 31, the evil angels, when entering into the state of 
misery, became hardened in evil, so that they incessantly think 
perversely of God and divine things. Hollaz: "The evil angels 
know God, but they dreadfully shudder at the divine knowledge," 
Jas. 2, 19. 

To the question "Why may not the wicked angels be restored 
to favor ?" Gerhard replies : "It is better to proclaim the wonderful 



philanthropy and mercy of the Son of God towards the fallen race 
of man . . . than to scrutinize beyond due limits the causes of 
that most just judgment by which God delivered the angels who 
had fallen away from Him to be cast in chains of darkness into- 
hell, reserved for judgment/' (Doctr. Theoh, p. 215.) 


The good angels are so confirmed in holiness that they always 
behold God and perpetually enjoy His goodness, Matt. 18, 10. With 
this beatific vision there is joined indissolubly the purest love of 
God; for in the state of glory they neither can sin (impeccability) 
nor desire to sin (2 Cor. 11, 14: "an angel of light"). The objec- 
tion that the good angels in the state of glory are no longer 
morally free since they are impeccable is based upon a false con- 
ception of moral freedom. The angels are free moral agencies, and 
yet their will is directed only to that which is holy (Rev. 14, 10: 
"in the presence of the holy angels"). In this respect the saints in 
heaven will be equal to the holy angels, Luke 20, 36. With regard 
to the election of the angels (1 Tim. 5, 21), we must hold on the 
basis of Scripture: a) that the angels were not elected in view of 
Christ's redemption since they never became sinners, Heb. 2, 16; 
b) that the evil angels were not rejected by an absolute eternal 
decree (papists, Calvinists), but were reserved unto eternal judg- 
ment because of their apostasy, 2 Pet. 2, 4. 

In accord with their beatific vision and perfect love of God 
the good angels render perpetual service to God, Is. 6, 3 ; Luke 
2, 13, and to His saints on earth, Ps. 104, 4; 103, 20. 21; Heb. 
1, 14. So far as God is concerned, He is not in need of the ser- 
vice of the holy angels since He does not require it for His own 
bliss (non ex quadam Dei indigentia) ; however, He has willed 
it (ex voluntate Dei libera). In particular, the holy angels serve- 
children, Matt. 18, 10; but also all believers in their work and 
calling, Ps. 91, 11. 12, and at their death, Luke 16, 22. The ques- 
tion whether each believer and especially each Christian child has 
a special guardian angel, Scripture does not answer with sufficient 
clearness, Matt. 18, 10 ; Acts 12, 15. 

While the holy angels, according to Scripture, also serve the 
political estate, Dan. 10, 13; Is. 37, 36, and the domestic estate, 
Ps. 34, 7; Matt. 18, 10, the object of their special ministry is the 
Christian Church; for they a) reverence and promote the message- 
of salvation, Luke 2,13; 1 Pet. 1,12; Eph. 3, 10; b) rejoice at 



the repentance of sinners, Luke 15, 10; c) minister God's Word to 
men, Dent. 33, 2; Gal. 3, 19; Luke 2,10—12; d) protect the 
saints of God, Jude 9; e) are present at public worship, 1 Cor. 
11, 10; 1 Tim. 5, 21 f. ; f ) will announce the final Judgment, Matt. 
25, 31 ; 1 Thess. 4, 16 ; g) and assist in its execution, Matt. 24, 31 ; 
13,41; 25,31; 13,42.50; Mark 13, 27. 

On account of this holy service we should highly esteem God's 
blessed angels (modern rationalistic theology regards the doctrine 
of the angels as superfluous), rejoice in their ministry, and think 
of them with pious awe, 1 Tim. 5, 21, though we should not honor 
them by divine worship (cvltus religiosus), since they are only 
creatures, to whom no worship is due, Rev. 22, 8. 9. Baier 
writes thus: "On account of these perfections which we discover 
the angels to possess and because they favor and assist us very 
greatly, it is also becoming that we praise and love them and take 
heed lest we offend them by evil deeds. But it is not becoming to 
us to direct our prayers to the angels. For that is impious and 
idolatrous." (Doctr. Theol, p. 213.) 


The wicked angels are evil not because they were so created, 
but because they willingly fell away from God (non ortu, sed 
lapsu). We are not in a position to say why God did not provide 
a Redeemer for the fallen angels as He did for fallen man; but 
Quenstedt suggests as a probable reason ( probdbilis ratio ) that the 
devils sinned without any temptation (Jude 6), while Eve was 
deceived by Satan (Gen. 3, 1 — 7) and Adam was tempted by 
his wife. But in no case must this explanation be used to limit 
the free compassion of the gracious God upon men. The fall of 
the evil angels affected their intelligence (vis intelligendi, intel- 
lectus). Scripture describes them, on the one hand, as exceedingly 
cunning, Gen. 3, Iff. ; 2 Cor. 11, 3; Eph. 6, 11, on the other hand, 
however, as indescribably stupid, because they defeat their own 
purposes. Thus Christ's death, which Satan promoted, Luke 
22, 53, was his own undoing, John 12, 31. 

The evil angels constantly exhibit and exert their enmity 
toward God, Rev. 12, 7, and attempt the temporal and eternal ruin 
of man, Gen. 3, Iff. ; 1 Pet. 5, 8. In their endeavor to injure man 
they harm him a) in his body, Luke 13, 11. 16; b) in his earthly 
possessions, Job 1, 12 ff.; Matt. 8, 31. 32; c) in his soul, John 



13, 27 ; Acts 5, 3; Eph. 2, 2. 3. Unbelief (status incredulitatis), 
with its dreadful punishment of eternal damnation, Mark 16, 16, is 
the result of Satan's pernicious work in men, Eph. 2, 1. 2 ; 2 Cor. 
4, 4; Matt. 13, 25. All who refuse to believe the Gospel do as 
Satan prompts them; for he holds them in his power, Acts 26, 18; 
Col. 1, 13. The very denial of the personal existence of a devil is 
the result of the devil's operation in the human heart, 2 Cor. 11, 14. 

On the basis of Holy Scripture we distinguish between spir- 
itual obsession (obsessio spiritudlis) and physical obsession (ob- 
sessio corporalis). The first applies in a wider sense to all unbe- 
lievers, who are held captive by Satan in spiritual darkness, Col. 
1, 13, and in a narrower sense to those wicked persons whose minds 
are possessed, filled, and actuated by Satan in an intensified way 
(Judas, the Pharisees). Passages dealing with spiritual obsession 
in this sense are: Luke 22, 3; John 13, 2; Acts 5, 3; 2 Thess. 2, 
9 — 1 1 ; 2 Cor. 4, 4. Spiritual obsession does not remove human 
responsibility, Matt. 25, 41, since the person so obsessed sins of his 
own free will, John 8, 43 — 45. Bodily obsession occurs when the 
devil immediately and locally inhabits and governs the body, con- 
trolling it according to his will, Mark 5, 1 — 19; Luke 8, 26 — 39. 
Bodily obsession is an affliction which may befall even true, be- 
lieving Christians, as the passages just quoted show. In all cases 
of bodily obsession a person has no intellectual, emotional, and 
volitional functions of his own, but as long as the obsession en- 
dures, Satan, who is personally (xcu' ovotav) present in him, acts in 
And through him, so that in all cases of bodily obsession human 
responsibility ceases. (Cp. cases in which persons who are bodily 
obsessed deplore in moments of recovery the blasphemies which 
they uttered.) 

The fury of the evil angels is directed especially against the 
Church of Christ; for they a) constantly seek to destroy it by 
their onslaughts in general, Matt. 16, 18; b) try to prevent hearers 
from accepting the Word of God, Luke 8,12; c) spread false 
■doctrine, Matt. 13, 25; 1 Tim. 4, Iff. ; and d) incite persecutions 
against the kingdom of Christ, Eev. 12, 7. In particular, Satan 
has wrought unspeakable harm in the Church by inflicting upon 
it the tyranny and doctrinal perversions of Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2. 
For the purpose of ruining the Church, the devil also troubles the 
political estate (1 Chron. 21, 1; 1 Kings 22, 21. 22) and the 
domestic estate (1 Tim. 4, 1—3; 1 Cor. 7, 5; Job 1,11—19). 
Scripture teaches also that God employs the evil angels to punish 



the wicked for their rejection of truth (2 Thess. 2, 11. 12) and to 
try the faithful (Job l,7ff.; 2 Cor. 12,7). 

The punishment of the evil angels is eternal torment in hell, 
Matt. 25, 41. The question whether the fire of hell is material 
(real fire) or immaterial (torment) we may leave undecided; for, 
on the one hand, Scripture speaks of the fire of hell in terms of 
real fire, Mark 9, 43; Rev. 14, 10. 11; 21, 8; on the other, it 
teaches that all material things in their present form shall cease 
with Judgment Day, 2 Pet. 3, 10 — 12. In either case the torment 
will be unspeakably great, Luke 16,24; Matt. 25, 46; 2 Thess. 
1, 9 ; Jude 6. 7. All who deny that the damnation of the devil 
and his angels is everlasting must also deny the eternal salvation 
of the believers, Matt. 25, 46, since the term (ai&vios) is used to 
describe the endless duration of both heaven and hell. 

In conclusion, let us remember that all things that Holy 
Scripture reveals concerning the fall, the works, and the punish- 
ment of the evil angels are written for our warning in order that 
we may escape the just judgment of God by believing in Him who 
destroyed the works of the devil, 1 John 3, 8. 




(De Anthxopologia.) 

The doctrine of man falls into two divisions: a) the state 
of integrity (status integritatis) and b) the state of corruption 
(status corruptionis). 

A. Man Before the Fall. 

(De Statu Hominis ante Lapsum.) 


The 6tate of integrity is the original condition of man. Man 
was created after the image of God, in wisdom, holiness, and right- 
eousness. The state of integrity is proved in Scripture a) by God's 
general verdict "very good," Gen. 1, 31, and b) by the special state- 
ment that God made man in His image, Gen. 1, 26. 27. For all 
practical purposes the designations image, and likeness, mo^, 
may be treated as synonyms. Luther: "ein Bild, das uns gleich 
sei" ; Baier: "imago simillima" 

In his original state man bore a resemblance to God because 
He Himself was the pattern, or archetype, after which man was 
made. According to Scripture, Adam was created after the like- 
ness of the Triune God, Gen. 1, 26, and not after that of Christ 
alone (the error of Osiander). 


The divine image consisted not simply in man's original en- 
dowment with intelligence and will, so that he, in contradistinction 
to all animals, was a rational being, but above all in the right 
disposition of his intellect and will, so that by means of his un- 
depraved intellect he knew God and divine things and by means 
of his uncorrupt will desired only that which God wills. Also his 
appetition (appetitus sensitivus) was in complete accord with the 
divine norm of holiness, so that in the state of integrity man Was 
entirely upright and uncorrupt in all his endowments, powers, and 
attributes. Calov writes (IV, 389) : "It is called a state of in- 
tegrity because man in it was upright and uncorrupt (Eccl. 7,29) 
in intellect, will, the corporeal affections, and endowments and in 
all things was perfect. It is also called the state of innocence 
because man was innocent and holy, free from sin and pollution." 
(Doctr. Theol., p. 220.) Man's state of integrity is proved also by 



the fact that Adam and Eve were in perfect agreement with God's 
commandments, Gen. 2, 19 ff.; 3, 2. 3. In the New Testament the 
image of God is described in Col. 3, 10 ("knowledge") and Eph. 
4,24 ("righteousness and true holiness"). 

The evolutionistic view, according to which man was originally 
a brute, without the faculty of speech and without moral endow- 
ments, is therefore anti-Scriptural. According to Scripture, man 
was not created as a beast, but as the lord of all the other creatures 
of God, Gen. 1, 26—31 ; 2, 16—23. In addition to perfect moral 
endowments man was blessed also with great intellectual endow- 
ments, so that he possessed an undimmed and blissful knowledge 
of God, as also an intuitive knowledge of God's creatures (science), 
such as no scientist after the Fall has ever attained, Gen. 2, 19 — 20. 
23. 24. Luther very aptly comments that Adam was an insignis 

As we reject the evolutionistic delusion, so also the papistical 
error that man was originally in a state of moral indifference (in 
statu purorum naturalium), in which he was neither positively 
good nor positively evil, but morally "neutral," or indifferent. In 
opposition to this erroneous opinion, Scripture teaches that orig- 
inally man's will was in perfect conformity with the holy will of 
God (sanctae Dei voluntati conformis et amore et fiducia Dei 
praeditus). Not merely was he inclined toward all that is good 
and God-pleasing, but he himself was positively good and holy. 
The spiritual and moral excellences of man in his state of integrity 
are summed up in the expression original, concreate righteousness 
(iustitia originaiis concreata), which describes his absolute con- 
formity with divine holiness and the absolute purity of his desires 
and appetites. 


The original wisdom, righteousness, and holiness of man in his 
first estate were not a "supernatural" gift of God, superadded to 
him to render his original estate complete and perfect (papists: 
donum supernaturale, donum superadditum) , but a concreate gift 
(donum concreatum, iustitia originalis, iustitia concreata), since he 
received the image of God at the very moment of his creation, 
Gen. 1, 26. 31. For this reason man's nature after the Fall is no 
longer in an uncorrupt state (natura integra, in puris naturalibus) 
as the papists teach, but in a state of corruption (natura corrupta, 



natura sauciata). Though the image of God does not constitute 
the nature of man, since even after the Fall he is still a true man, 
yet the divine image belonged to the nature of the uncorrupt man 
or to the uncorrupt human nature. It is certainly a proof of total 
corruption that man, though he was created for the glory of God 
and still knows of His existence and rule (Rom. 1, 19), should 
neither love nor adore the Creator, but worship the creature. 
Therefore we declare on the basis of Scripture that man through 
the Fall has entirely lost the image of God in its proper sense, 
that is, his concreate wisdom, righteousness, and holiness, so that 
his intellect now is veiled in spiritual darkness, 1 Cor. 2, 14, and 
his will is opposed to God, Rom. 8, 7. 

In view of this fact the question arises, How are we to under- 
stand such passages as Gen. 9, 6 and Jas. 3, 9 ? Luther and other 
dogmaticians (Philippi, Hofmann) explain them as describing 
man as he was originally and as he should again become through 
faith in Christ Jesus (restoration of the divine image through 
regeneration). Melanchthon, Baier, Quenstedt, and others regard 
them as teaching a divine image in a wider sense, namely, inas- 
much as man, even after the Fall, is still an intelligent, self- 
determining rational being, who even now, though feebly, rules 
over the creatures of God. But also those theologians who speak 
of an image of God in the wider sense admit that the divine image 
in its proper sense was lost through the Fall, Col. 3, 10 ; Eph. 
4, 24. For the sake of clearness and accuracy it is preferable to 
adopt Luther's explanation of the passages quoted. The unregen- 
erate are so far from possessing the divine image that they are said 
to have no hope and to be without God in the world, Eph. 2, 12, 
as also, that what they sacrifice they sacrifice to the devils and 
not to God, 1 Cor. 10, 20. 

The seat of the divine image was not the body, but the soul 
of man; for the knowledge of God together with holiness and 
righteousness inheres properly in the soul. Nevertheless also the 
body shared in the divine image, since it is the organ of the soul. 
For this reason bodily immortality ( immortalitas corporis ) was an 
immediate result of man's possession of the divine image. Death 
entered into the world through the Fall, Gen. 2, 17; Rom. 5, 12; 
6, 23. The claim that death is caused by the matter of which the 
body consists must be regarded as a pagan view. Since man orig- 
inally was without sin, he was free also from painful and destruc- 
tive sufferings, Gen. 3, 16ff. The original condition of man was 



therefore one of supreme happiness; for a) his soul was wise and 
holy; b) his body was free from suffering and death; c) his con- 
dition of life was most blessed; and d) his condition of habitation 
was most pleasant, since God placed him into a garden of pleasure, 
called Paradise, to dwell there and enjoy His goodness forever, 
Gen. 2, 8—15 (F}V} m \l; DVi§; jiagadeioos). 

The intimate communion and blissful association of uncor- 
rupt man with the holy God, Scripture itself cites as a proof of 
the status integritatis, Gen. 2, 19 ff.; so also the fact that our first 
parents were naked, yet not ashamed, Gen. 2, 25. Cf. Luther, 
St. L., I, 170.) 


According to Scripture the immediate results of the divine 
image in man were a) immortality, b) dominion. 

That Adam and Eve were created immortal is clear from Gen. 
2, 17 ; Kom. 5, 12; 6, 23. Had they not sinned, they never would 
have died. Death was threatened them if they would become dis- 
obedient to their Creator. Whether they would have dwelled end- 
lessly in Paradise, or whether God would have received them into 
heaven in His own time Scripture does not say. With respect to 
immortality we rightly distinguish between absolute and relative, 
or conditional, immortality. The former denotes absolute freedom 
from death and its destructive power, in which sense God, the 
angels, the human souls, and the bodies of the saints in heaven 
and of the damned in hell are immortal. The latter denotes 
freedom from the natural tendency to die, yet so that death could 
happen under a certain eventuality, in which sense man in the 
state of integrity was immortal. It is one thing not to be able to 
die, another to be able not to die, and still another not to be able 
not to die. The first is said of the saints in heaven; the second, 
of Adam and Eve in their state of integrity; the third of all 
sinners after the Fall (Quenstedt). 

Man's dominion over the creatures, according to Scripture, 
was an immediate result of his possession of the divine image 
(iustitia originalis concreata). The dominion of man must be 
regarded as real sovereignty, so that all the other creatures will- 
ingly rendered him service. After the Fall man possesses only 
a faint vestige of this absolute dominion (species dominii, nudus 
titulus dominii), since now he must apply force and cunning to 
control the creatures over which he endeavors to rule. The rebel- 



lion of the creatures against man is the direct consequence of his 
own rebellion against God, or of the loss of his concreated wisdom, 
holiness, and righteousness, and should continually remind him 
of the heinousness of sin and of the dreadfulness of its effects, 
p 8 . 39, 4_6. 


Not only Adam, but also Eve possessed the divine image. This 
is clear a) from Gen. 1, 27; b) from Col. 3, 10; Eph. 4, 24, com- 
pared with Gal. 3, 28 ; for with regard to the renewal after the 
image of God there is no difference between male and female; 
and c) from Gen. 1, 28, where dominion is ascribed to the woman as 
well as to the man. Nevertheless the woman in her relation to 
the man occupied a position of subjection even before the Fall; 
for not only was she taken from man, but she was also created as 
his helpmeet, Gen. 2, 18— 22; 1 Cor. 11, 7— 9; 1 Tim. 2, 11— 13. 

This divine order must not be subverted; for it is the will of 
God that the woman should not usurp authority over the man by 
ruling over him. But, on the other hand, the woman should not 
be tyrannized or made a slave ; for though she was not taken from 
the head of Adam to govern him, yet neither was she taken from 
his feet to be trodden under by him. Luther says : "Woman should 
be regarded with reverence; for she is God's handiwork. She was 
created that she might be a helpmeet for her husband, bring up 
children, and rear them in faith and piety." Both the man and 
the woman serve best in that relation or sphere in which God has 
created each, Eph. 5, 21—33; Titus 2, 3—5; 1 Cor. 7, 20, whereas 
the abrogation of the divine order will result in confusion and 
injury for human society, Prov. 1, 24 — 33. (Cp. Luther, St. L., 
V, 1517; II, 540; II, 687; XVI, 2280.) 


In His infinite grace, God bestowed His divine image upon 
man in order a) that he might know and serve Him and experience 
perfect enjoyment in communion with Him, and b) that he might 
be His representative ruler upon earth, Gen. 1, 27. 28. As after 
the Fall the redemption of man was motivated by divine love, John 
3, 16, so also the creation of man in God's image before the Fall, 
Ps. 104, 23. 24; 136, 1—9. Although man in the state of integrity 
intimately knew God, he did not know the eternal decree of re- 
demption; for this was especially revealed to him after the Fall, 
Gen. 3, 15. Hence our first parents knew God as gracious in Him- 




self, but not as gracious on account of Christ's vicarious atonement. 
After the Fall and the promulgation of the protevangelium the 
divine object of man's knowledge and adoration has therefore be- 
come different ; for now he trusts and adores God as gracious only 
through the priceless redemption of the Savior, Luke 1, 77. The 
Biblical concept of salvation (ocdttjqici, stilus) cannot be applied to 
man's state of integrity, since it presupposes both sin and the re- 
demption from sin, Luke 19, 10. 

B. The State of Corruption. 

(De Statu Peccati.) 

Through the Fall (peccatum originans) man has lost his con- 
create righteousness and holiness (iustitia originalis concreata), so 
that he is now in a state of corruption (in statu corruptionis). 
This state is defined by Quenstedt as follows (II, 48) : "The state 
of corruption is that condition into which man voluntarily precipi- 
tated himself by his own departure from the chief Good, thus 
becoming both wicked and miserable." (Doctr. Theol., p. 231.) 
The fall of man was therefore neither his exaltation ( Gnosticism ) r 
nor the most fortunate event in human history (Schiller), nor 
a critical stage in his evolutionistic development (modern evolu- 
tionism), nor a necessary step in his moral and intellectual progress 
(pantheism). The fall of man was apostasy from God, Gen. 3 r 
14 — 19, and therefore evil both in its nature and in its effects,. 
Gen. 3, 22 — 24; Rom. 5, 12. Hence it is as a sinner (homo pec- 
cator) that fallen man is the subject of sacred theology (subiectum 
operationis theologiae) , whose purpose it is to restore in him the 
image of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 2 Cor. 3, 5. 6. 18. For 
this reason the doctrine of sin constitutes an essential part in 
Christian theology, Rom. 1, 18 — 32 ; 2, 1 — 12. — Commonly the 
doctrine of sin is treated under three heads: a) Sin in General 
(De peccato in genere); b) Original Sin (De peccato originali); 
c) Actual Sins (De peccatis actualibus). 


(De Peccato in Genere.) 


According to Scripture, man should be in complete conformity 
with the divine will (conformitas cum voluntate Dei), as this is 
revealed in the divine Law (vo/ioc). Every departure from the 
norm of the divine Law is sin (dvofiia), no matter whether it con- 



sists in a state or condition (status, habitus) or in actual deeds 
(actiones internae et externae). Considered etymologically, sin is, 
in the first place, a negative concept (dro/xta), and as such it de- 
notes man's lack of conformity with the divine Law ( carentia con- 
formitatis cum lege). So Scripture defines sin (1 John 3,4: "Sin 
is lawlessness," dvo/uta). But sin is also a positive concept, and 
as such it denotes opposition to, or transgression of, the Law, so that 
positively sin is a violation of the Law. So, too, Scripture defines 
sin (1 John 3,4: "He does lawlessness, Ttjv dvojuiav noizT; Matt* 
7, 23 : "Ye that work lawlessness," IgyaZo/uevoi xtjv dvo^uav). 
The reason for this is obvious. Man, destitute of righteousness, is 
at the same time in constant, active rebellion against the divine 
Law. In other words, after the Fall man wilfully refuses to recog- 
nize the obligation he has toward God (Rom. 1, 18. 32) and con- 
stantly breaks the divine Law, since his carnal mind is enmity 
against God, Eom. 8, 7. On the basis of Holy Scripture we there- 
fore describe sin, a) negatively, as a lack of righteousness or of con- 
formity with the divine will (carentia conformitatis cum lege); 
b) positively, as actual opposition to the divine will (carnalis con- 
cupiscentia sive inclinatio ad malum). 

When defining sin, we must beware of the error of the papists 
and rationalists, who condemn as sinful only those evil acts which 
are done consciously and deliberately. Against this pernicious 
error the Apology testifies : "But in the schools they [the papists] 
transferred hither from philosophy notions entirely different, that 
because of passions we are neither good nor evil, we are neither 
deserving of praise nor blame. Likewise, that nothing is sin unless 
it be voluntary (inner desires and thoughts are not sins if I do not 
altogether consent thereto). These notions were expressed among 
philosophers with respect to civil righteousness and not with respect 
to God's judgment." (Art. II (I), § 43.) According to Scrip- 
ture both the evil deeds, 2 Sam. 12, 13, and the evil thoughts and 
desires, Jas. 1, 15; Eom. 7, 17; Matt. 5, 28, are sins, even if they 
are done unknowingly and without deliberation, Eom. 7, 19; 
1 Tim. 1, 13. Indeed, according to Scripture even the inherited 
corruption, which yet cleaves to the Christian and which he ear- 
nestly deplores, is sin in an absolute sense, Eph. 2, 3 ; John 3, 5. 6 ; 
Eom. 7, 19. 24. 


Since sin is "lawlessness" {dvo/xia), it is necessary to know 
what law Scripture means when it describes sin as a "transgression 
of the Law." If the doctrine of the divine Law is perverted by 



man's adding to or subtracting from it, then also the doctrine of 
sin must needs be perverted. It is therefore necessary that we 
define that Law the transgression of which makes a thought or 
deed sinful. The Formula of Concord describes the Law in the 
sense in which it is here used as a "divine doctrine in which the 
righteous, immutable will of God is revealed, what is to be the 
quality of man in his nature, thoughts, words, and works in order 
that he may be pleasing and acceptable to God." (Thor. Decl., 
Art. V, 17.) This definition is Scriptural; for only God can decree 
laws for men, since this is His divine prerogative, Jas. 4, 12. Laws 
enacted by men are binding only if God Himself has given men 
authority to make them and so has given the human laws divine 
sanction. This is the case with all laws of civil government and 
with all parental commandments, Rom. 13, 1 ; Col. 3, 20, provided 
they do not contradict the divine Law, Acts 5, 29. But this is not 
the case with the so-called "laws of the Church," since God has 
expressly withheld from the Church legislative authority, Matt. 
23, 10. Hence in the Church only those laws are to be acknowl- 
edged as binding which have been enacted by God Himself. 

In all matters where no special divine laws obtain, decisions 
should be reached by Christians through mutual agreement on 
the basis of Christian love, 1 Cor. 16, 14. Of the Pope, Luther 
rightly says that he has filled the whole world with a satanic obe- 
dience, since he has taught men to obey, not the Law of God, but 
his own pernicious laws (St. L., I, 765). While it is true that only 
God's immutable will constitutes the divine Law which binds all 
men, it is equally true that the whole divine Law, with all its 
demands and prohibitions, must be taught by the Church. For 
as little as the Church has authority to make laws of its own, just 
so little has it authority to discard any laws which God has made, 
Matt. 5, 17—19 ; Mark 7, 6—13. 

Since the Old Testament ceremonial laws have been abolished 
through the coming of Christ, Gal. 4, 9 — 11; 5, 1 — 4, they are no 
longer in force in the New Testament, Col. 2, 16, so that the im- 
mutable will of God which now obligates all men must be identified 
with the Moral Law, Matt. 22, 37 — 40; 1 Tim. 1, 5. For this 
reason we define sin in general as a deviation from the divine 
Moral Law, no matter whether that Law has been written in the 
human heart or communicated to man by positive precept. For the 
Jews in the Old Testament also every deviation from the cere- 
monial or political laws constituted a sin; but since in the New 



Testament these laws have been abolished by God's express will, 
Col. 2, 16, it would be a sin to reinstitute them as necessary and 
binding upon the consciences of New Testament believers, Matt, 
15, 9; Gal. 5, 1 — 4. The laws which God enacted as temporary 
man must not declare to be permanent. 


Through the Fall the absolute knowledge of the divine will 
which God at creation had planted into the human soul was greatly 
weakened or obscured. For this reason man after the Fall no 
longer knows the divine will, or Law, with certainty, though his 
conscience (avveidrjoig, conscieiitia) in a measure still functions, 
Eom. 2, 14. 15. Moreover, after the Fall, conscience may err (con- 
scientia erronea), so that man often regards as forbidden what 
God allowB (eating of certain foods at certain times, drinking of 
spirituous liquors, etc.), or, vice versa, regards as allowed whfit He 
has forbidden (worshiping idols, trusting in one's works for sal- 
vation). So also conscience may entertain doubts (conscientia 
dubia) with regard to the propriety of certain acts, or it may 
suggest no more than a mere probability (conscientia probabilis) 
of right or wrong, so that man remains uncertain with regard to 
the course which he must follow. Conscience, after the Fall, is 
therefore no longer a safe standard of what God wills or forbids. 
The only inerrant norm by which God's immutable will may be 
known with certainty is Holy Scripture, which contains a com- 
plete revelation of the divine Law, Matt. 5, 18. 19; Gal. 3, 23. 24, 
though properly this was given to men for the sake of the Gospel, 
Eom. 3, 19—22. 

From Holy Scripture we know with certainty which laws were 
meant to be temporary and which, on the other hand, all men at 
all times must obey, Col. 2, 16. 17; Gal. 5, 1. 2. The immutable 
will of God is the Moral Law, which binds all men and obligates 
them to obedience, Matt. 22, 37 — 40 ; Eom. 13, 8 — 10. While the 
Moral Law is summarily comprehended in the Decalog, the Ten 
Commandments, in the form in which they were given to the Jews, 
Ex. 20, 1 — 17, must not be identified with the Moral Law, since they 
contain ceremonial features, Ex. 20, 8 — 11 ; Deut. 5, 12 — 15. Only 
in its New Testament version may the Decalog be identified with 
the Moral Law, or the immutable will of God, Bom. 13, 8 — 10; 
Jas.2,8; 1 Tim. 1, 5. (Cp. Luther, St. L., XX, 146 ff.) 

It is self-evident that commandments given to individual be- 



iievers (mandata specialia), Gen. 22, must not be interpreted as 
applying to men in general. That the Mosaic laws regarding the 
prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity, Lev. 18, pertained 
not only to the Jews, but to men in general is indicated by the 
text itself, Lev. 18, 24 — 30, though the levirate command was tem- 
porary, obligating only the children of Israel (Deut. 25, 5 — 10; 
cp. v. 10: "His name shall be called in Israel/' etc.) 


While fallen man in his state of depravity is always inclined 
to shift the responsibility for his sin on God or on other creatures, 
Gen. 3, 12. 13, Holy Scripture teaches expressly that God is in no 
way whatever the cause of man's sin. Hence God must be charged 
with sin neither directly ("God created man with the evil tendency 
to sin") nor indirectly ("God is a cause of sin in so far as He 
concurs in evil actions," quoad materiale). 

Questions such as "Why did God create man subject to temp- 
tation ?" or "Why does He still allow men to be tempted by sin ?" 
belong to the "unsearchable judgments and ways" of God, which 
are past finding out, Rom. 11, 33 — 36. We neither can answer 
them, nor should we try to answer them, Job 40, 1 — 5 ; 42, 1 — 6. 
Perverted reason will either charge God with being the cause of 
sin (pantheistic determinism) or deny the reality of sin (atheism). 
According to Scripture, however, God was the cause of sin neither 
in the devil, John 8, 44, nor in man, Gen. 1, 31 ; nor does He ap- 
prove or abet sin in any person, Gen. 2, 17 ; 3, 8 ; 4, 6. 7 ; Ps. 5, 4. 5. 
Not even in evil actions, in which He concurs quoad materiale, does 
God will the sinfulness of such actions (John 19, 11 compared with 
Luke 22, 52. 53). Also the fact that God permits sin (Acts 14, 16) 
or punishes sin with sin (Rom. 1, 26; 2 Thess. 2, 11) must not be 
construed as if He were in any way the cause of evil; for in all 
these cases He manifests His punitive justice (iustitia vindicativa) . 
According to Scripture the external, or remote, yet principal, 
cause of sin is Satan, who sinned first and then seduced man into 
sin, John 8,44; 2 Cor. 11, 3; Rev. 12, 9, while the internal and 
directly efficient cause of sin is man's corrupt will, which permits 
itself to be enticed into sin by Satan (Gen. 3, 6. 17; John 8, 44: 
"The lusts of your father ye will do"). The Augsburg Confession 
says (Art. 19) : "Although God does create and preserve nature, 
yet the cause of sin is the will of the wicked, that is, of the devil 
and ungodly men." Hence man is responsible for his sin, or 



a sinner (subiectum quod peccati), in spite of the fact that he 
is misled into sin and held captive in it by the devil, Eph. 2, 2. 
The subiectum quo, or the proper seat of sin, is the soul (intellect 
and will) of man, though the body shares in his sin, since it is the 
organ of the soul. To regard the soul as pure and the body as 
polluted is a pagan error (Gnosticism). Since Holy Scripture 
condemns all men as sinners, Eom. 3, 4 — 23, the papistical doctrine 
of the immaculate conception of Mary must be rejected as anti- 
christian, 2 Thess. 2, 9. 10. 


Because sin is lawlessness (dvo/xia), which God has expressly 
forbidden, man through sin becomes guilty before God, Rom. 3, 19 
(reatus culpae) and subject to His most just punishments, Gal. 
3, 10 (reatus poenae). How sin should be punished (the manner 
and extent of punishment) is not for guilty man to decide, but 
has been determined and decreed by God Himself, Deut. 9, 5 ; Eom. 
6,23; Matt. 25, 41. 

The transgression of our first parents was immediately fol- 
lowed by death (Gen. 2, 17; Rom. 5, 12) in its threefold aspects 
as a) spiritual death, inasmuch as they lost the divine image and 
became alienated from God and entirely corrupt in their whole 
nature, Gen. 5, 3; John 3, 5. 6; b) temporal death, inasmuch as 
they were now subject to bodily dissolution with all its incidental 
diseases and miseries, Gen. 3, 16 — 19; and c) eternal death, inas- 
much as they were now under the curse of eternal damnation, 
2 Thess. 1,9; Matt. 25, 41. However, the sentence of death was 
stayed by the promise of the divine Redeemer of the sinful human 
race, Gen. 3, 15. Since all descendants of Adam share in his guilt 
and corruption, Rom. 5, 12; Ps. 51, 5, all without exception are 
under the curse and condemnation of the Law, Rom. 3, 19 — 23. 
But as they share in Adam's sin, so they share also in the redemp- 
tion of the Savior who was promised to our first parents, Rom. 
5, 15—21. 

The guilt and punishment of sin must be constantly empha- 
sized by the Christian theologian, since man in his depravity re- 
fuses to believe what the divine Law teaches with regard to sin and 
its consequences. He denies the temporal punishments of sin 
(disease, death), explaining them as natural events; and he denies 
the eternal punishment of sin, Matt. 25, 41 ; 2 Thess. 1, 9, though 
his conscience accuses and condemns him, Rom. 1, 32; 2, 15. 



Even believers, in so far as they are flesh, refuse to believe the 
severity of God's threats, Ps. 90, 11. 12, and therefore Christ Him- 
self so earnestly proclaimed the truth that the divine punishment 
of sin is eternal, Mark 9, 43 — 48. 

While the effusions of divine wrath upon the wicked must be 
regarded as a real punishment for sin (poena vindicativa) , the suf- 
ferings of believers in this life (1 Cor. 11, 32) are in reality fatherly 
chastisements (castigationes paternae), which flow not from wrath, 
but from love (Ps. 94, 12; Heb. 12, 6; Eev. 3, 19), though in form 
and appearance they do not differ from the punishments of the 
wicked. Luther rightly calls the chastisement of God's saints 
a "gracious and joyous punishment." 


(De Peccato Originali.) 


Original sin (peccatum originate), or the state of depravity, 
which followed Adam's transgression and which now inheres in all 
his posterity, embraces a) hereditary guilt (culpa hereditaria) and 
b) hereditary corruption (corruptio hereditaria). That the guilt 
of Adam is imputed to all his descendants is taught in Rom. 5, 18 : 
"By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condem- 
nation"; v. 19: "By one man's disobedience many were made 
sinners." The hereditary corruption of all descendants of Adam 
is clearly taught in Ps. 51, 5 : "I was shapen in iniquity, and in 
sin did my mother conceive me" ; John 3, 6 : "That which is born 
of the flesh is flesh." That the word flesh (odg£) here denotes cor- 
ruption (corrupt flesh) is proved by v. 5 : "Except a man be born 
of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of 
God." Therefore the term is here used precisely as in Rom. 8, 7 : 
"the carnal mind" (to (pgovrjua rfjg oaoxog). According to Scrip- 
ture, God, then, imputes (^n, Xoyi&xai) the guilt of Adam to all 
his descendants (Rom. 5, 12: "for that, l<p 9 o5, all have sinned") . 

Hence, while the expression "original sin" is not a Scripture- 
term (vox aygatpoe), but one coined by the Church, the matter 
which it denotes is truly Scriptural. Original sin is so called 
a) because it is derived from Adam, the root and beginning of the 
human race; b) because it is connected with the origin of the 
descendants of Adam; and c) because it is the origin and fountain 
of all actual transgressions (Hollaz.) In Scripture it is described 



a) as indwelling sin, Rom. 7, 17; b) as a law in the members, Rom. 
7,23; and c) as lust (im&vula), Jas. 1, 14. 15. All these expres- 
sions depict original sin with respect to its nature or its effects* 

Hollaz defines original sin thus : "Original sin is the thorough 
corruption of human nature, which by the fall of our first parents 
is deprived of original righteousness and is prone to every evil." 
The Formula of Concord declares: "Original sin is not a slight, 
but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy 
or uncorrupt has remained in man's body or soul, in his inner or 
outward powers." (Epit., Art. I, 8.) A more extended definition 
is given by Quenstedt (II, 52) : "Original sin is a want of original 
righteousness, derived from the sin of Adam and transmitted to 
all men who are begotten in the ordinary mode of generation, 
including the dreadful corruption and depravity of human nature 
and all its powers, excluding all from the grace of God and eternal 
life and subjecting them to temporal and eternal punishments, 
unless they be born again of water and the Spirit or obtain the 
remission of their sins through Christ." (Doctr. Theoh, p. 242.) 

In opposition to the Scriptural doctrine of original sin, all 
Pelagians and modern rationalistic theologians deny that a foreign 
sin (peccatum dlienum) can rightly be imputed to Adam's de- 
scendants. They claim that men can be charged only with 
the evil deeds which they themselves have committed. However, 
Scripture teaches the imputation of Adam's guilt to his descen- 
dants in such a way that, if the imputation of guilt is denied, also 
the imputation of Christ's righteousness to Adam's descendants 
must be denied. Eom. 5, 18. 19: "As by the offense of one, judg- 
ment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the right- 
eousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification. 
As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the 
obedience of One shall many be made righteous." The imputation 
of original guilt belongs to the stubborn facts which Scripture 
teaches as undeniable truth. The objection that the guilt of Adam 
cannot be charged to his descendants because "the son shall not 
bear the iniquity of the father," Ezek. 18, 19. 20, ignores the fact 
that "God as Judge, in agreement with His supreme judicial 
authority, punishes man's crime of violating His majesty also in 
his descendants" (Quenstedt). — God does impute Adam's guilt to 
his descendants, and He is just in doing so. But that same God 
in love imputes to sinners also Christ's righteousness so that they 
may be saved. 



Original corruption (corruptio hereditaria) is transmitted to 
all men through the ordinary mode of generation, Ps. 51, 5; 
John 3, 6. Since Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the 
womb of the Virgin Mary, Luke 1, 35, His nature was not cor- 
rupted by sin (immaculate conception). However, for Mary, His 
mother, no immaculate conception can be claimed, since she was 
born according to the ordinary mode of generation, Luke 1, 27, and 
was therefore in need of a Savior herself, Luke 1, 47. In reply to 
the objection that godly parents cannot transmit sin to their chil- 
dren since their sins have been forgiven, Gerhard says: "Carnal 
generation is not according to grace, but according to nature"; 
and Augustine : "In begetting, he [the parent] does not give that 
whence one is regenerated, but whence one is generated." (Doctr. 
Theol, p. 243.) 

While original corruption may be known to some extent from 
reason (Horace: "Nam vitiis nemo sine nascitur"; Cicero: "In 
omni continuo gravitate et in summa opiniorum perversitate ver- 
samur, ut paene cum lacte nutricis err or em suxisse videamui''), 
the Smalcald Articles rightly declare: "This hereditary sin is so 
deep and horrible a corruption of nature that no reason can under- 
stand it, but it must be learned and believed from the revelation of 
Scripture." (Part III, Art. I, 3.) And the Formula of Concord: 
"But if it is further asked what kind of an accidens original sin is, 
that is another question, of which no philosopher, no papist, no 
sophist, yea, no human reason, however acute it may be, can give 
the right explanation, but all understanding and every explanation 
of it must be derived solely from the Holy Scriptures, which testify 
that original sin is an unspeakable evil and such an entire cor- 
ruption of human nature that in it and all its internal and ex- 
ternal powers nothing pure or good remains, but everything is 
entirely corrupt, so that on account of original sin man is in God's 
sight truly spiritually dead, or with all his powers dead to that 
which is good." (Thor. DecL, I, 60.) 

With respect to original corruption all those err a) who deny 
it altogether, asserting that children are corrupted not by propaga- 
tion (generatione), but by the bad example of others (exemplo); 
b) who admit the corruption of human nature, but deny that it 
is sin, since only voluntary transgression is sin (peccatum volun- 
tarium); and c) who minimize original corruption (Semi- 
Pelagians, synergists). However, wherever the doctrine of orig- 



inal corruption is minimized, there also the doctrine of salvation 
•by grace alone (sola gratia) is perverted; for the sola gratia always 
presupposes the total corruption of human nature (intima cor- 
ruptio naturae humanae). 


Holy Scripture is very explicit in describing the effects of 
original corruption on the intellect and will of man. With respect 
to the intellect, original sin implies a total want of spiritual light, 
so that man by nature cannot know or understand the truths of 
God's Word which pertain to his conversion and salvation. Indeed, 
he is so blinded that he regards the Gospel as foolishness, 1 Cor. 
2, 14, while he looks upon the very Law which condemns him, 
Gal. 3, 10 — 12, as the true way to salvation, Gal. 3, 1 — 3 ; Eph. 
4, 17. 18. This dense spiritual darkness is not removed by educa- 
tion or culture, 1 Cor. 2, 6 — 9 ; Col. 2, 8, but solely by the Holy 
Ghost through the Gospel, Acts 16, 14; 2 Cor. 4, 6. While the 
intellect of corrupt man is unable to know the Gospel and is thus 
at fault negatively, it positively is prone to pass rash and false 
judgments concerning spiritual things, Acts 2, 13; 17, 18. 32, and 
to harden itself against the divine truth, Acts 7, 51. 

The Formula of Concord describes this deplorable state of 
natural man as follows : "By the fall of our first parents man was 
so corrupted that in divine things pertaining to our conversion and 
the salvation of our souls he is by nature blind, so that, when the 
Word of God is preached, he neither does nor can understand it, 
but regards it as foolishness; also, that he does not of himself 
draw nigh to God, but is and remains an enemy of God until he 
is converted, becomes a believer (is endowed with faith), is regen- 
erated and renewed, by the power of the Holy Ghost through the 
Word when preached and heard, out of pure grace, without any 
cooperation of his own." (Thor. Decl., II, 5.) 

Again: "Although man's reason or natural intellect indeed 
has still a dim spark of the knowledge that there is a God, as also 
of the doctrine of the Law, Eom. 1, 19 ff., yet it is so ignorant, 
blind, and perverted that, when even the most ingenious and learned 
men upon earth read or hear the Gospel of the Son of God and 
the promise of eternal salvation, they cannot from their own powers 
perceive, apprehend, understand, or believe and regard it as true, 
but the more diligence and earnestness they employ, wishing to 
comprehend these spiritual things with their reason, the less they 



understand or believe, and before they become enlightened and are 
taught by the Holy Ghost, they regard all this only as foolishness 
or fictions, 1 Cor. 2, 14; 1, 21 ; Eph. 4, 17ff. ; Matt. 13, llff. ; Luke 
8, 18; Rom. 3, 11. 12. Accordingly the Scriptures flatly call nat- 
ural man in spiritual and divine things darkness, Eph. 5, 8 ; Acts 
26, 18; John 1, 5. Likewise the Scriptures teach that man in sins 
is not only weak and sick, but defunct and entirely dead, Eph. 
2, 1. 5 ; Col. 2, 18." (Thor. Decl., II, 9. 10.) 

With respect to the will of fallen man Holy Scripture teaches 
a) that it actually and constantly opposes the divine Law, Eph, 
2, 3 ; 1 Pet. 4, 3. 4, and b) that on account of its total corruption 
it cannot but oppose God's will. Rom. 8, 7 : "It is not subject to 
the Law of God, neither indeed can be." The will of natural man 
is therefore both in constant opposition to God and in constant 
agreement with Satan and his evil will, Rom. 8, 7; Eph. 2, 1; 
John 8, 44; Rom. 6, 17. 20 ; Heb. 2, 15. Even the externally good 
deeds of natural man (iustitia civilis) do not flow from true love 
of God, Eph. 2, 12, but at best from natural sympathy or com- 
passion and similar causes, though generally such "good works" 
have their source in vainglory and work-righteousness, Matt. 23, 

The Augsburg Confession rightly declares (Art. II) : "Since 
the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born 
with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, 
and with concupiscence." And the Formula of Concord says : "In 
spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart, and will of the 
unregenerate man are utterly unable by their own natural powers 
to understand, believe, accept, think, will, begin, effect, do, work, 
or concur in working, anything; but they are entirely dead to 
what is good, and corrupt, so that in man's nature since the Fall, 
before regeneration, there is not the least spark of spiritual power 
remaining nor present by which of himself he can prepare him- 
self for God's grace, or accept the offered grace, nor be capable of 
it for and of himself, or apply or accommodate himself thereto, 
or by his own powers be able of himself, as of himself, to aid, do, 
work, or concur in working, anything towards his conversion either 
wholly or half or in any, even the least or most inconsiderable, part, 
but that he is the servant (and slave) of sin, John 8, 34, and a cap- 
tive of the devil, by whom he is moved, Eph. 2, 2 ; 2 Tim. 2, 26. 
Hence the natural free will according to its perverted disposition 
and nature is strong and active only with respect to what is dis- 
pleasing and contrary to God" (Thor. Decl., II, 7.) 



As the will of natural man is opposed to God, so also his 
appetition (appetitus sensitivus), which, prompted by inordinate 
desires, impels him to rush into all manner of vices that seem 
agreeable to his perverted senses, although these are prohibited 
by the divine Law, Kom. 1,32; 1,26—27; 13,13. Original sin 
is therefore "the root and fountainhead of all actual sins," as the 
Formula of Concord rightly states (Thor. Decl., I, 5). 

It is this constant opposition to the divine will and habitual 
inclination to evil (hdbituaiis inclinatio ad malum) that makes 
original sin a positive evil, or sin in the full sense of the term, 
indeed, the "chief sin" (principium et caput omnium peccatorum). 
The Augsburg Confession declares (Art. II) : "This disease, or vice 
of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning, and bringing eternal 
death upon, those not born again through Baptism and the Holy 
Ghost. They condemn the Pelagians and others [Semi-Pelagi- 
anism, Scholasticism] who deny that original depravity is sin and 
who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that 
man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason." 


As already pointed out, Holy Scripture describes original sin 
both a) as a defect, or lack of concreated righteousness (carentia 
iustitiae concreatae), and b) as concupiscence, that is, as a con- 
stant, vicious disposition to evil (habitualis inclinatio ad malum). 
This is taught in Rom. 7, 23 : "I see another law in my members, 
warring against the law of my mind"; Gal. 5, 17: "The flesh 
lusteth against the Spirit"; etc. It is as concupiscence that orig- 
inal sin is something positive (positivum quid). However, sin is 
not positive in the sense that it is a material substance, which 
subsists of itself (substantia materialis, quae proprie subsistit). 
Original sin is not a substantia, that is, a self-existent essence, but 
an accidens, that is, an accidental matter, which does not exist by 
itself essentially, but inheres in a self-existent essence. Hence we 
must distinguish between human nature, which also after the Fall 
is the work of God, and the corruption of human nature, or orig- 
inal sin, which is the work of the devil. 

This truth the Formula of Concord strenuously maintains 
against every form of Manicheism (Flacianism), which assumes 
two existent substances, of which one is essentially good and the 



other essentially evil. (Formula of Concord, Art. I. Augustine r 
"Original sin is not the nature itself, but an accidens vitium in 
natura, that is, an accidental defect and damage in nature." Thor. 
Decl., I, 55.) 

On the other hand, our confession contends against Pelagi- 
anism and synergism with equal emphasis that original sin as an 
accidens is not "a slight, insignificant spot sprinkled or a stain 
dashed upon the nature of man or a corruption only in some acci- 
dental things, along with and beneath which the nature never- 
theless possesses and retains its integrity and power even in spir- 
itual things" (Thor. Decl., I, 21), but "such an unspeakable evil 
and such an entire corruption of human nature that in it and all 
its internal and external powers nothing pure or good remains, 
but everything is entirely corrupt, so that on account of original 
sin man is in God's sight truly dead" (Thor. Decl., I, 60). Thus 
our Lutheran confession avoids both the Scylla of Manicheism and 
the Charybdis of Pelagianism. 


Holy Scripture teaches very emphatically that all descendants 
of Adam are corrupted by original sin, so that not a single human 
being after the Fall is uncorrupt or without the taint and pollution 
of sin, Eom. 5, 12 ; 3, 23 ; John 3, 5. 6. For this reason our dog- 
maticians say that the subiectum quod of original sin are all men 
born in the course of nature (naturaliter nati). Christ was not 
subject to original sin because He was conceived through the 
miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost, Matt. 1,20; Luke 1,35. 
The anti-Scriptural decree of Pope Pius IX (1854), which in the 
interest of Mariolatry ascribed to the mother of Christ an immacu- 
late conception, proves the antichristian character of the Papacy. 

The doctrine of the universality of original sin is of the 
greatest importance for the right understanding of the doctrine of 
the means of grace. In particular, it is the foundation of the 
doctrine of Baptism; for since all children are "flesh born of the 
flesh," John 3, 6, and Baptism is the divinely ordained washing 
of regeneration, Titus 3, 5, regarding which Christ commanded 
that "all nations" should be baptized, Matt. 28, 19, it is obvious 
that children, whom God desires to be saved through the means of 
grace, Matt. 19, 14. 15, should receive Holy Baptism. The opinion 
that children born of Christian parents are unspotted by sin is 
opposed to the clear teaching of Scripture, Ps. 51, 5; John 3, 6. 




The cause of original sin (peccatum originate) is not God, who 
in His just wrath condemns and punishes this sin, Eph. 2, 3, but 
a) the devil (causa remota), who seduced our first parents, Gen. 
3, Iff.; John 8,44; 2 Cor. 11, 3; and b) our first parents them- 
selves (causa propinqua), who allowed themselves to be misled,, 
Eom. 5, 12 ; 1 Tim. 2, 14. Hollaz writes : "Our first parents are 
the proximate cause of the original blemish, from whose impure 
nature the original stain has flowed into our hearts. Everything 
follows the seeds of its own nature. No black crow ever produces 
a white dove, nor does a ferocious lion beget a gentle lamb; and 
no man polluted with inborn sin ever begets a holy child." (Doctr* 
TheoL, p. 239.) 


The effects of original sin in man are a) death with all its 
temporal and eternal punishments and b) the manifold actual sins, 
of which each human being, being born in sin, is guilty. 

Original sin entails, first of all, spiritual death, or the 
alienation of sinful man from the holy God, Eph. 2, 1. 5. 12. 
Unless spiritual death is removed through conversion, temporal 
death, Ps. 90, 7 — 9, which is a direct punishment of the first 
transgression, Gen. 2, 17, is followed by eternal death, or endless 
damnation, Matt. 25, 41 ; 2 Thess. 1, 9. The divine injunction "In 
the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," Gen. 2, 17, 
was literally fulfilled, since spiritual death followed immediately 
upon the transgression, and our first parents were at once subject 
to temporal and eternal death. 

The answer to the question how the eating of the fruit of the 
forbidden tree could produce results so dreadful is given by Scrip- 
ture itself. The disastrous consequences of the first transgression 
were due not to any poisonous substance in the fruit itself nor to 
the fact that the devil had taken possession of the tree, but de- 
volved upon Adam and Eve because in eating of the forbidden 
fruit, they transgressed the divine commandment, Gen. 2, 17- 
If it is further asked why God did not make another commandment 
the test of man's obedience, the Lutheran theologian Brenz replies : 
"Since the Moral Law was already written in man's heart, it pleased 
God to try his [man's] faith by a commandment not already made 
known to him." However, it must not be forgotten that all these 



questions in the last analysis belong to the unsearchable judgments 
of God, which lie beyond the grasp of human reason. 

Original sin is the source of all actual transgressions, so that 
all actual sin comes from within man, Mark 7,21 — 23; Ps. 51, 
3 — 5 ; for since the fountain has been polluted, the waters flowing 
from it are likewise unclean. Because God is not the author of 
sin, but hates and condemns it, Ps. 11, 5 ; 5, 4. 5, His wrath and 
just punishments rest upon guilty man, Kom. 3, 19, both on ac- 
count of his original sin and his actual sins, Eph. 2, 3 ; Kom. 5, 18. 


(De Feccatis Actualibus.) 


By actual sin (peccatum actuate) we understand all lawlessness 
(dvojuia) which is done, or committed. It thus stands in contra- 
distinction to that dvo/Ltia which all men inherit from their parents 
through their sinful birth (quae in omnes homines per carnalem 
generationem derivator) and on account of which they are con- 
demned as sinners (imputatio peccati Adamitici; corruptio heredi- 
taria), even when they have not yet broken the divine Law through 
transgression of individual commandments, Eom. 5, 19. Or, more 
briefly described: "Actual transgression is every act, whether ex- 
ternal or internal, which conflicts with the Law of God." (Hutter.) 
Luther very fittingly calls original sin "person sin," "nature sin," 
or "essential sin," because it is "not a sin which is committed," 
but one which "inheres in the nature, substance, and essence of 
man, so that, though no wicked thought ever should arise in the 
heart of corrupt man, no idle word were spoken, no wicked deed were 
done, yet the nature is nevertheless corrupted through original sin." 
(Formula of Concord, Epit., I, 21.) Actual sins are divided into 
sins of commission and omission, that is, sins which occur by doing 
(agendo) what the divine Law prohibits or by omitting (omit- 
tendo) what the divine Law commands. For this reason Hollaz 
defines actual sin thus : "Actual sin is a turning away, by a human 
act either of commission or omission, from the rule of the divine 
Law, incurring responsibility for guilt (reatus culpae) and liability 
to punishment (reatus poenae)" (Doctr. Theol., p. 252.) 

The omission of the good which the Law demands is an actual 
sin, because it is prompted by hatred against God, love of evil, and 
wilful neglect of duty in opposition to conscience, Eom. 1, 32; 



Luke 12, 47. 48. To actual sins belong also all evil thoughts and 
desires with regard to both doctrine and life, Matt. 5, 28 ; Gen. 
20, 9 ; Matt. 15, 19 ; Rom. 7, 7. In Holy Scripture actual sins are 
called "works of the flesh," Gal. 5, 19 ; "unfruitful works of dark- 
ness/' Eph. 5, 11; "deeds of the old man," Col. 3, 9; "dead works," 
Heb. 6, 1; 9,14; "unlawful deeds," 2 Pet. 2, 8, all of which ex- 
pressions characterize these sins with respect to their nature 
and source. — Our Lutheran Catechism aptly defines actual sin as 
"every transgression of the divine Law in desires, thoughts, words, 
and deeds." We recommend this definition as one that is clear, 
simple, and eminently practical. 


Actual sins are prompted by causes within man (causae 
peccati actualis intra hominem) and causes outside man (causae 
peccati actualis extra hominem). 

The real cause of actual sins within man is his corrupt nature 
(corruptio hereditaria), as Scripture declares. Rom. 7,17: "It is 
no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." In particular, 
Scripture mentions as causes of actual sins : a) the spiritual igno- 
rance which results from hereditary corruption, 1 Tim. 1, 13 ; Matt. 
26,65.66, cp. with Acts 3,17; b) sinful emotions and passions, 
such as fear (Matt. 14, 30; Mark 14, 66ff.; Gal. 2, 12), wrath 
(Luke 9, 54. 55; 4, 28. 29), and the like; however, neither man's 
ignorance nor his sinful passions excuse the evil deeds which are 
committed because of them, nor do they remove the sinfulness of 
such acts, 1 Tim. 1, 15 ; Luke 22, 62 ; c) the habitual evil inclina- 
tion (habitus vitiosus) which is produced and confirmed by re- 
peated sinful acts, Jer. 13, 23; for though the inclination to evil 
is innate in man, there is also an acquired evil inclination, or 
a vicious disposition, which has its source in his sinful practises 
(inclinatio ad malum acquisita; peccatum habituale acquisitum; 
habitus vitiosus acquisitus). It is self-evident that man is respon- 
sible also for the sins that have their source in his vicious habits 
and practises, Rom. 1, 24 — 27, and which in moments of sober re- 
flection he may earnestly deplore (e. g., a confirmed drunkard). 

As causes of actual sins outside man, Scripture mentions 
a) the devil, who not only actuates the unregenerate, Eph. 2, 2; 
1 Cor. 10, 20, but also seeks to seduce the regenerate into sin, 
1 Chron. 21, 1 ; Luke 22, 31 ; Matt. 16, 23. How Satan tempts be- 
lievers to commit actual sins is well illustrated by his temptation 




of Christ, though he could not prevail against Him, Matt. 4, Iff, 
b) Men who mislead persons to sin by their false teachings, Rom. 
16, 17. 18; 2 Tim. 2, 17, by ungodly or immoral words and writ- 
ings, 1 Cor. 15, 33, and by wicked deeds, 2 Pet. 2, 1 — 3, are also 
causes of actual sins. 

Though God is in no way the cause of actual sin, or of evil 
deeds, yet He is the author of evil in the sense of tribulation or 
affliction, Is. 45, 7. This truth Holy Scripture sets forth for the 
comfort of all believers who endure trials and chastisements in 
this life, Acts 14, 22, to the glory of God, 2 Cor. 12, 9, and their 
own good, Rom. 8, 28. 


The sin of tempting any one to evil, Scripture describes as 
giving offense, Rom. 16, 17. For one to give offense means to teach 
or do anything by which another is occasioned either not to believe 
or to believe error or to lead a wicked life, so that his faith is either 
endangered or even destroyed. For this reason Scripture warns us 
most solemnly against the crime of giving offense, Matt. 18, 6ff. ; 
Mark 9,42ff.; Luke 17,1.2. 

However, according to Scripture, offense is given not only by 
doing that which is evil (false doctrine, wicked life), but also 
through the unwise use of adiaphora (Rom. 14: eating meat, 
drinking wine) ; for in this way weak brethren may be occasioned 
to do something which their erring consciences regard as wrong. 
Rom. 14, 20: "It is evil for that man who eateth with offense"; 
14, 23 : "He that doubteth is damned if he eat because he eateth 
not of faith." A Christian should not entertain erroneous views 
concerning adiaphora, Rom. 14, 14. 22; nevertheless, if, being 
a weak Christian, he has not the right knowledge, 1 Cor. 8, 7, he 
must under no circumstances do what he regards as wrong, Rom. 
14, 15. 21. 23. 

From this follows the general rule of Christian conduct that 
believers must at all times be willing to yield their Christian liberty 
unless the truth of the Gospel is at stake, Gal. 5, 1. 12. But if a per- 
son who claims to be weak in Christian knowledge demands that 
his error should be acknowledged as truth and insists upon promul- 
gating it as such, he is no longer a "weak brother," whose "weak- 
ness" can be tolerated, but a false prophet, who judges and con- 
demns true believers for using their right knowledge, Col. 2, 16 ; 
Gal. 5, 1 — 3. If a person takes offense because a confessing Chris- 



tian is compelled to use his Christian liberty on account of the 
confession involved, no guilt attaches to such a Christian for using 
his liberty for the Gospel's sake. The guilt rather attaches to those 
who compel the true Christian to insist upon his liberty, Gal. 2, 4. 5 ; 
cp. with Acts 16, 3. 

On the basis of Scripture we rightly distinguish between an 
offense which is given and one which is taken. An offense is taken 
when a person who is spiritually blind and corrupt takes occasion 
to sin from words or acts which in themselves are right. Thus 
the Jews were offended at Christ and His Gospel because of their 
self -righteousness, Rom. 9, 32, while the Gentiles were offended at 
Christ Crucified because of their carnal pride, 1 Cor. 1, 22. 23. This 
type of offense will continue till the end of time, Luke 2, 34 ; Rom. 
9, 33 ; 1 Pet. 2, 8. Christians are offended at Christ when they 
renounce Him because of the suffering which His confession en- 
tails, Matt. 24, 10; 13, 21. It is for this reason that Christ so 
earnestly warns His followers : "Blessed is he whosoever shall not 
be offended in Me," Matt. 11, 6. 


Whenever ungodly men take offense at the preaching of the 
divine Word in such a manner that the more they hear, the more 
they resist the Holy Spirit, they are said to harden their hearts 
against the divine truth, Ex. 8, 15 ; Ps. 95, 8 ; John 12, 40. In the 
process of hardening degrees may be recognized, so that not every 
case of obduracy is beyond recovery, Acts 3, 14 — 17. As God is not 
the cause of the offense which is taken at His Word, so He is not 
the cause of the hardening of those who refuse to believe, Acts 7, 
51 — 54, though Scripture speaks also of obduration as an act of 
God, Ex. 7, 3 ; Rom. 1, 24 — 26. The direct cause of obduration is 
a) the devil, who blinds the human mind and fills the heart with 
wickedness, 2 Cor. 4, 4 ; Acts 5, 3 ; Eph. 2, 2 ; and b) man himself, 
who of his own will rejects divine grace, Matt. 13, 15; 23,37, 
while God hardens man not causally, but judicially and permis- 
sively, Rom. 1, 24. 26 ; Acts 7, 42. Hence the divine act of obdu- 
ration may be described as a judicial act of God by which, on 
account of antecedent, voluntary, and persistent wickedness, He 
justly permits the obstinate sinner to harden himself by withdraw- 
ing from him His Holy Spirit and delivering him into the power 
of Satan, Luke 22, 3. 




According to Scripture there is a) a temptation for good 
(tentatio probationis) and b) a temptation for evil (tentatio 
seductionis). The first comes from God and is designed for the 
trial and strengthening of faith, Gen. 22, 1 — 18; Deut. 13, Iff.; 
Ps. 66, 10 f. By sending tentationes probationis upon His children, 
God does not become the author of sin; for a) He proportions all 
trials to the strength of His saints, 1 Cor. 10, 13, and b) sustains 
His beloved most graciously in their faith whenever they are 
tempted, Luke 22, 31. 32 ; 1 Cor. 10, 13. For this reason those 
who resist and overcome temptation do so not by their own strength 
or worthiness, but solely by the grace of God, Kom. 11, 20 — 22; 
2 Cor. 12, 9. 

Temptations for evil (tentationes seductionis) come a) from 
the devil, Matt. 4, Iff.; 1 Pet. 5, 8; b) from the world, 1 John 2, 
15 — 17 ; and c) from the flesh, Jas. 1, 14; cf. 1 Thess. 3, 5 ; 1 Cor. 
7, 5 ; 1 Tim. 6, 9 ; Mark 14, 38. It is of great comfort to all be- 
lievers that Christ, who Himself was tempted, has promised to 
sustain His followers in their temptations, Heb. 2, 18; 4, 15; 
2 Pet. 2, 9. 


The purpose of classifying actual sins is to point out more 
definitely and to describe more clearly the numerous transgressions 
to which the believer is subject, Job 9, 2. 3. Our interest in the 
classification is therefore entirely practical. It urges us to con- 
sider the manifold temptations by which Satan, the world, and 
our own flesh are bent on seducing us into vice and shame, Matt. 
26, 41 ; 1 Cor. 10, 12, to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of 
the flesh and spirit by daily repentance, and to perfect holiness in 
the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7, 1 ; Heb. 12, 1. 2. Hence the classifica- 
tion of actual sins must not be regarded as unnecessary or useless, 
but rather as highly profitable, especially since Holy Scripture 
itself distinguishes between sins, 1 John 5,16; Jas. 4, 17; John 
19, 11. Just because "all Scripture is profitable f or . . . correction 
and instruction in righteousness," 2 Tim. 3, 16, it vividly depicts 
either by express word, 1 Cor. 5, 9 — 11, or by example, 2 Sam. 
11,4.24; Matt. 26, 48 f., the uncountable transgressions which 
threaten the Christian in his life on earth, Ps. 19, 12. 13. 

a. Voluntary and involuntary sins. On the basis of clear 
Scripture statements we distinguish between voluntary and in- 



voluntary sins. The former (peccata voluntaria, malitiae, pro- 
aeretica) are such sinful acts in which man transgresses the divine 
Law by a deliberate volition, contrary to the dictates of conscience, 
John 13,26.27.30. The latter (peccata involuntaria) are such 
sinful acts as are committed without sure knowledge (peccata 
ignorantiae, 1 Tim. 1, 13) or without a deliberate purpose of 
the will {peccata inftrmitatis, peccata praecipitantiae, Luke 22, 
55 — 62). Involuntary sins are accordingly divided into sins of 
ignorance and of infirmity. However, only in the case of Chris- 
tians do we speak of sins of infirmity, since all unbelievers, being 
dead in trespasses and sins, Eph. 2, 1, and captive in the power of 
Satan, Eph. 2, 2 ; 2 Tim. 2, 26, desire the very sins into which 
they are misled by the devil, Eph. 2, 3 ; John 8, 44. But the be- 
liever, as a new creature in Christ, 2 Cor. 5, 17, detests the sins 
which he commits, Kom. 7, 15, and earnestly wills that which is 
good, Rom. 7, 19. 22 — 24. As sins of infirmity, or involuntary sins, 
we must regard also the sinful emotions, that is, the inordinate 
thoughts and desires (motus inordinati subitanei), which suddenly 
arise in Christians out of their carnal heart (adpf) without and 
against their will, Gal. 5, 17. 24. (Cp. Luther, St. L., IX, 1032.) 
Infants cannot be said to be guilty of deliberate sins (peccata pro- 
aeretica; Deut. 1, 39; Jonah 4, 11) ; but they may not be declared 
free from actual sins, because they are flesh born of the flesh, John 
3, 6, and as such always in opposition to the divine will, Gal. 5, 17 ; 
Gen. 8, 21 ; Ps. 51, 5. On the other hand, also in infants the Holy 
Spirit, through the means of grace (Baptism, Titus 3, 5) works 
faith, Matt. 18, 6, and the works of faith, Ps. 8, 2, so that they, 
as new creatures in Christ, resist the evil emotions of the flesh, 
Matt. 18, 3. 4. 

Voluntary sins must be considered not only with respect to 
the will, but also with respect to conscience. For this reason we 
regard as voluntary sins also those committed against conscience. 
These are fourfold, inasmuch as a person may sin a) against a cor- 
rect conscience ( conscientia recta), which is in agreement with the 
divine Law, Eom. 1, 32; or b) against an erring conscience (con- 
scientia erronea), in which case he sins both when he disregards 
(Rom. 14, 14; 1 Cor. 8, 7. 10 — 12) and when he follows his mis- 
guided conscience, which is at variance with the divine Word. An 
erring conscience therefore leads to sin both when it is obeyed 
and when it is disobeyed (cp. the case of a person who is bound by 
his conscience to worship saints); or c) against a probable con- 



science (conscientia probabilis), as in that case he either neglects 
the duty of ascertaining the right course of action, Ps. 119, 9. 11, 
or acts in doubt, Rom, 14, 23 ; or d) against a doubting conscience 
(conscientia dubia), since in such cases he should not act at all, 
Rom. 14, 23. 

b. Sins of commission and of omission. Sins of commission 
(peccata commissionis) are positive acts, by which negative pre- 
cepts of God are violated. Sins of omission (peccata omissionis) 
consist in the neglect of acts prescribed by affirmative precepts 
of God (Hollaz). In sins of commission accordingly that is done 
which God has forbidden, Ex. 20, 13 — 17 ; in sins of omission that 
is omitted which God demands, Jas. 4, 17. Although sins of omis- 
sion are not always done intentionally or by an express purpose of 
the perverted will, yet every omission of that which is good is 
a sin in the true sense of the term, since man has been created 
for the very purpose of serving God by always doing that which 
is good, i. e., commanded by Him. Ipsum non facere, quod prae- 
ceptum, peccatum est, Matt. 28, 20 ; Ezek. 37, 24. 

c. Sins against God, against the neighbor, and against oneself. 
Sins against God are those which are directed against the First 
Table of the Decalog, Matt. 22, 37. 38 ; Gen. 39, 9. Sins against 
the neighbor are directed specifically against the Second Table, 
Matt. 22, 39 ; Lev. 19, 17. Sins against oneself are those which, 
like fornication and impurity in general, defile the body, 1 Cor. 
6, 18. Nevertheless we must remember that every sin against the 
neighbor or against oneself is a sin only because it is primarily 
committed against God, Ps. 51, 4; Gen. 39, 9. Omne peccatum in 
Deum committitur. 

d. Grievous and less grievous sins. Every transgression of the 
divine Law is rebellion against God (dvofua, lawlessness, J^B) 
and therefore damnable, Gal. 3, 10. From the viewpoint of dam- 
nability therefore we cannot speak of "smaller" and "greater" sins. 
Still Scripture itself distinguishes degrees in sinning (John 19, 11, 
fid^ova d/btaQTiav). Children before the years of discretion (anni 
discretionis) are less culpable than are adults, Deut. 1, 39. Ser- 
vants who know the will of the Lord and yet refuse to do it shall 
be beaten with many stripes, Luke 12, 47, while such as sin against 
Him in ignorance shall receive only few stripes, v. 48. From this it 
is clear that as there are degrees in sinning, there are degrees also 
in the eternal punishment which the damned will suffer. The most 
grievous of all sins is unbelief, John 3, 18. 19 ; 16, 9. — The classifi- 



cation of sins into sins of the heart, of the mouth, and of the actual 
deed (peccata cordis, oris, operis) does not always indicate degree, 
since a sin of the heart (unbelief, implacability, etc.) may be more 
grievous than a sin of the mouth or of the actual deed (cf. an angry 
word spoken in haste; an evil deed done without malice, on the 
spur of the moment). When judging whether one sin is more 
grievous than another, we must consider a) the person sinning; 
b) the impelling cause; c) the object involved; d) the Law 
violated; and e) the consequence of the sin. Nevertheless every 
sin renders man guilty before God, Rom. 3, 19. 

e. Mortal and venial sins. Mortal sins (peccata mortalia) are 
all sins which actually precipitate the transgressor into a state of 
wrath, death, and condemnation, so that, if he should die without 
repentance, his punishment would be eternal death, John 8, 21. 24; 
Rom. 8, 13. All sins of unbelievers are mortal sins since unbe- 
lievers reject Christ, for whose sake alone God pardons sin, Rom. 
3, 24 ; Eph. 1, 7 ; Acts 4, 12. When we speak of mortal sins of "be- 
lievers," we mean such sins as grieve the Holy Spirit, Eph. 4, 30, 
and destroy faith (David's murder and adultery, Ps. 32, 3. 4). 
"A mortal sin is that by which the regenerate, overcome by the 
flesh and not remaining in a regenerate state, transgress the divine 
Law by a deliberate purpose of the will, contrary to the dictates 
of conscience, and thereby lose saving faith, reject the gracious 
influence of the Holy Spirit, and cast themselves into a state of 
wrath, death, and condemnation." (Hollaz.) — Venial sins (pec- 
cata venialia) are the involuntary sins of believers, which, though 
in themselves deserving eternal death, are forgiven for Christ's 
sake, in whom the believer trusts and in whose strength he con- 
tinually repents of his sins, Ps. 19, 12. 13 ; 51, 9 — 12. 

On this point the papists err, who teach that certain sins are 
in themselves mortal ( superbia, avaritia, luxuria, ira, gula, invidia, 
acedia), while others in themselves are venial and so deserve only 
temporal punishments. The Calvinists err in this matter by teach- 
ing that the elect never lose faith or fall from grace, even when 
they commit enormous sins (peccata enormia). 

With mortal sins may be identified the so-called dominant 
and with venial sins the so-called non-dominant sins. In unbe- 
lievers all sins are dominant, since they are dead in trespasses 
and sins and are in the power of Satan, Eph. 2, 1 — 3. The blessed 
state in which sin is no longer dominant in man is found in be- 
lievers only, Rom. 6, 12. 14. If believers give up the struggle 



against sin, Gal. 5, 16. 17, so that it again reigns over them, they 
have fallen from grace and lost faith, Gal. 5, 4; 1 Cor. 5, 11. 

f. Crying sins. Crying sins (peccata clamantia) are such as 
invoke God's punishments in a special degree. Examples of crying 
sins mentioned in Scripture are the following: a) the fratricide 
committed by Cain, Gen. 4, 10; b) the sins of the Sodomites, Gen, 
18, 20; c) the oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians, 
Ex. 3, 9; d) the oppression of widows and orphans, Ex. 22, 22. 23; 
e) the withholding of wages from hired laborers, Jas. 5, 4; f ) the 
persecution of Christians, Kev. 6, 9. 10. In general, we may de- 
scribe as crying sins all crimes committed against the helpless 
(widows, orphans, the poor, the oppressed, etc.), whose cause God 
Himself must champion and defend, Ex. 3, 7 — 9; 22, 21 — 24; 
Is. 3, 13—15. 

Clamitat ad coelum vow sanguinis et Sodomorum, 
Vox oppre88orum, viduae, pretium famulorum. 

g. Pardonable sins and the unpardonable sin. A pardonable 
sin (peccatum remissibile) is a sin of which it is possible to repent, 
while the "unpardonable sin" (peccatum irremissibile) excludes the 
possibility of repentance. Since all sins are pardonable except the 
sin against the Holy Ghost, Matt. 12, 31. 32; Mark 3, 22—30; 
Luke 12, 10, which is the only irremissible sin that Scripture re- 
cords, this sin requires special consideration. However, the classi- 
fication just given must not be abused in the interest of carnal 
security and indifference toward sin. Every sin is pardonable 
only if the sinner in true repentance trusts in the vicarious satis- 
faction of Christ. It is only from the viewpoint of divine grace 
that sins are pardonable, not from that of human merit, Rom. 
4, 5 — 8. There is no "guiltless sin" before God, Bom. 3, 19; 
Gal. 3, 10. 

h. The sin against the Holy Ohost. The sin against the Holy 
Ghost is described in Scripture as "blasphemy against the Holy 
Ghost," Mark 3, 28. 29. This blasphemy is distinguished from that 
directed against Christ, Matt. 12, 32, which, as our Savior expressly 
teaches, is pardonable. As Scripture references to the sin against 
the Holy Ghost our dogmaticians consider also 1 John 5, 16 and 
Heb.6,4— 6; 10,26.27. 

The sin against the Holy Ghost is unpardonable because it ia 
directed, not against the divine person of the Holy Ghost, but 
against His divine office or His gracious operation upon the human 
heart. Peccatum in Spiritum Sanctum non in personam, sed in 



officium Spiritus Sancti commitiitur. That is the nature, or 
essence, of this sin. However, not every resistance against the work 
of the Holy Ghost comes under the head of this sin; otherwise 
every person in the world would commit this unpardonable sin, 
since by nature all men resist the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 2, 14; 
Rom. 8, 7. 

The sin against the Holy Ghost is committed only when the 
Holy Spirit has clearly revealed the divine truth to the sinner and 
the sinner nevertheless utters blasphemies against it. Hence this 
sin must not be identified a) with that of final impenitence (impoe- 
nitentia finalis) nor b) with blasphemy of the divine truth flowing 
from spiritual blindness, 1 Tim. 1, 13, nor c) with the denial of 
the divine truth through fear, Luke 22, 61. 62. The sin against 
the Holy Ghost consists in the perverse, persistent denial and 
rejection of the divine truth after the latter has been sufficiently 
acknowledged and accepted as such, joined with voluntary and 
atrocious blasphemy. In other words, it is the malicious and 
blasphemous rejection of the Gospel by a hardened sinner, who- 
through the gracious illumination of the Holy Ghost has been 
fully convinced of its divine truth. Hollaz writes : "Peccatum in 
Spiritum Sanctum est veritatis divinae evidenter agnitae et in 
conscientia approbatae malitiosa abnegatio, hostilis impugnatio r 
horrenda blasphematio et omnium mediorum salutis obstinata et 
finaliter perseverans reiectio" 

Most dogmaticians teach that the sin against the Holy Ghost 
can be committed only by those who were regenerated, though 
others, and among these Baier, maintain that it occurs also in the 
unregenerate, namely, in the very moment when the Holy Ghost 
is about to convert them and to this end convicts them of the divine 
truth. The reason why the sin against the Holy Ghost is un- 
pardonable is because it is malicious and persistent resistance 
against the converting and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost r 
through which alone sinners are saved. 

The Calvinists err in teaching that the sin against the Holy 
Ghost is unpardonable for the reason that God from eternity has 
predetermined to damnation those who maliciously resist the divine- 
truth. Over against this error it may be shown that Christ 
earnestly desired to save the very Pharisees who rejected His 
Word and committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, Matt. 12,. 
22—32; 23,37. 



The question whether the sin against the Holy Ghost still 
occurs must be answered in the affirmative, since Matt. 12, 81. 32 
and its parallel passages are general statements and so apply at 
all times. Prom 1 John 5, 16 we conclude that in certain cases 
those who commit the sin against the Holy Ghost may be known; 
for in this passage believers are asked not to intercede for such 
("I do not say that he," etc.). At the same time we must not be 
hasty in charging with this sin a person who may appear to us to 
be guilty of it, but rather continue in the testimony of the truth 
as we have opportunity, warning the wrong-doer against the dread- 
ful offense which our Lord so strongly condemns, just as He Him- 
self earnestly warned the Pharisees against it, Matt. 12, 22 — 32. 

Whether Heb. 6, 4—6 and 10, 26. 27 treat of the sin against 
the Holy Ghost is an exegetical question, though many scholars 
believe that these two passages speak of this sin. In Heb. 12, 17 
the word "repentance" refers to Isaac rather than to Esau, the 
meaning of the text being that Esau with all his tears could not 
prevail on his father to change his mind and turn Jacob's blessing 
to his advantage, Gen. 27, 34 — 38. 

Only divine grace can preserve us from the sin against the 
Holy Ghost. If they were left to themselves, all who have 
come under the gracious operation of the Spirit of God would 
commit this heinous sin. Those who are in great distress of mind 
because they fear that they have committed it should take comfort 
from the fact that this unforgivable sin is committed only by such 
as maliciously spurn and blasphemously reject the grace of God in 
Christ Jesus, not, however, by any one who repents of his sins and 
longs for the forgiveness which the Gospel offers. To him apply 
such passages as Matt. 11, 28; 9, 13; John 6, 37. 

1. Other classifications. 1. Secret sins and manifest sins. 
Secret sins are those which are known either to the transgressor 
alone (Ps. 32,3 — 5) or besides to him only to a few others who 
either rightly (Matt. 18, 15. 16) or wrongly (Lev. 5, 1; Prov. 
29, 24) desire them to remain hidden. Open sins are such as 
have become known to many, 1 Tim. 5, 20 ; 1 Cor. 5, 1. This 
division is of great importance for the proper treatment of disci- 
plinary cases. 

2. Personal sins and foreign sins whose guilt we share. Per- 
sonal sins are those which the sinner himself commits, 2 Sam. 
12, 13, while foreign sins whose guilt we share are transgressions 
committed by others with our knowledge, sanction, concurrence, 



or aid. We participate in the sins of others if we command, 
counsel, consent to, or connive at, their evil deeds, or do not oppose 
them nor give information concerning them, so that we become 
morally responsible for such sins, 2 Sam. 11, 15 — 21. 

Holy Scripture warns us most emphatically against partici- 
pating in the sins of others, Eph. 5, 7. 11 ; 1 Tim. 5, 22 ; 2 John 11 ; 
Eev. 18, 4. In particular, believers should avoid false teachers lest 
they share in their offense of publishing false doctrine, 2 John 11; 
2 Cor. 6, 14— 18; Rom. 16, 17. 18. But we offend in this point 
also by taking pleasure in the sins of others, Rom. 1, 32. Such 
pleasure in the sins of others is awakened especially by listening to 
immoral or blasphemous conversation, 1 Cor. 15, 33 ; Eph. 4, 29 ; 
1 Tim. 6, 20 ; 2 Tim. 2, 16, or by associating with wrong-doers in 
general (unionism, Ps. 1, 1 ; Eph. 5, 11 ; Ps. 26, 4. 5). 




(De Liber o Arbitrio.) 

Among the effects of original sin we must enumerate also the 
loss of the freedom of the will in spiritual matters. The term "free 
will" (liberum arbitrium) is used in a twofold meaning. In the 
first place it denotes the faculty to will (facultas volendi), by which 
man is distinguished from all irrational creatures. Free will in this 
sense is called also formal freedom, or freedom from coercion 
(libertas a coactione). 

When we use the term in this sense, we say that man through 
the Fall has not lost his free will; for although corrupt man is so 
perverted that he cannot do otherwise than sin (non potest non 
peccare), he nevertheless sins not against his will, but of his own 
free will. In other words, he is never coerced to sin, but commits 
sin of his own choice, John 8, 44. Hutter writes: "Sometimes 
the term will, or choice, is used to designate the faculty of the 
soul, indeed the very substance of the will itself, whose function 
is simply that of willing. Thus regarded, scarcely any one will 
deny free will to man." And Gerhard: "The question is not 
whether the essence of the will has survived the Fall ; for this we 
emphatically maintain, namely, that man has not lost his will, 
but the soundness of it." (Doctr. Theol., p. 260.) 

However, the term "free will" has been used also in the sense 
of "spiritual power" by which corrupt man can desire that which 
is spiritually good, prepare himself for divine grace, fulfil the 
divine Law out of true love for God, accept and believe the Gospel, 
and thus either convert himself entirely or at least cooperate in 
his conversion. To distinguish "free will" in this sense from the 
mere faculty of willing, dogmaticians have called it spiritual free- 
dom (libertas spiritualis) or material freedom. 

When the term "free will" is used in this sense, we, on the 
basis of Scripture, emphatically deny that man after the Fall 
has a "free will." 1 Cor. 2, 14 : "The natural man receiveth not 
the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolishness unto him ; 
neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned"; 
John 6, 44 : "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath 
sent Me draw him"; Rom. 8, 7: "The carnal mind is enmity 
against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither 
indeed can be" ; Eph. 2, 1 : "You hath He quickened who were 
dead in trespasses and sins." 



If, then, the natural man does not receive the spiritual things, 
but regards them as foolishness ; indeed, if he is dead in trespasses 
and sins and is enmity against God, then certainly he is without 
the power to will that which is spiritually good, to apply himself 
to divine grace, and to prepare himself for, or to cooperate in, his 
conversion. Gerhard writes: "Understanding the term liberty as 
describing the free power and faculty of choosing the good and 
rejecting the evil that was possessed by Adam, we maintain that 
Luther was perfectly correct in saying : 'Free will is a title without 
the thing itself, or a thing with nothing but a title/ " 

Similarly the Formula of Concord says: "In spiritual and 
divine things, which pertain to the salvation of the soul, man is like 
a pillar of salt, like Lot's wife, yea, like a log and a stone, like 
a lifeless statue, which uses neither eyes nor mouth, neither sense 
nor heart. For man neither sees nor perceives the terrible and 
fierce wrath of God on account of sin and death, but ever con- 
tinues in his security, even knowingly and willingly. . . . All 
teaching and preaching is lost upon him until he is enlightened, 
converted, and regenerated by the Holy Ghost." (Thor. Decl., 
11,20.21). And again: "Therefore the Scriptures deny to the 
intellect, heart, and will of the natural man all aptness, skill, 
capacity, and ability to think, to understand, to be able to do, to 
begin, to will, to undertake, to act, to work, or to concur in work- 
ing, anything good and right in spiritual things as of himself, 
2 Cor. 3, 5; Rom. 3, 12; John 8, 37; 1, 5; 1 Cor. 2, 14; Rom. 
8, 7: John 15, 5; Phil. 2, 13." (Thor. Decl., II, 12—14.) 

But while our Confessions thus teach that man in spiritual 
matters has no free will, it admits on the basis of Scripture that 
the will of natural man is free in worldly affairs and even to some 
extent in the exercise of civil righteousness (iustitia civilis, car- 
nalis, operum). The Apology of the Augsburg Confession affirms: 
"The human will has liberty in the choice of works and things 
which reason comprehends by itself. It can to a certain extent 
(aliquo modo) render civil righteousness, or the righteousness of 
works; it can speak of God, offer to God a certain service by an 
outward work, obey magistrates, parents; in the choice of an 
outward work it can restrain the hands from murder, from adultery, 
from theft. Since there is left in human nature reason and judg- 
ment concerning objects subjected to the senses, choice between 
these things, and the liberty and power to render civil righteous- 
ness, are also left." (Art. XVIII, 70.) 



The qualification which is here made, namely, that man in 
the things enumerated has a free will only "to a certain extent" 
(dliquo modo), is very important, since by nature he is so dead in 
trespasses and sins and captive in Satan's power, Eph. 2, 2 ; Col. 
1, 13; 2 Tim. 2, 26; Acts 26, 18, that his civil righteousness leaves 
much to be desired. The Apology therefore rightly adds: "The 
power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil 
dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is effica- 
cious in the godless, as Paul says Eph. 2, 2, does not cease to incite 
this feeble nature to various offenses. These are the reasons why 
civil righteousness is rare among men, as we see that not even the 
philosophers themselves, who seem to have aspired after this 
righteousness, attained it." (Art. XVIII, 71.) 

The Scriptural doctrine that man in spiritual matters has no 
free will at all, but is completely blind, dead, and inimical to God, 
has always been absolutely denied by synergists and Semi-Pela- 
gians. The Formula of Concord describes the synergistic error 
as follows : "Man is not absolutely dead to good in spiritual things, 
but is badly wounded and half dead. Therefore, although the free 
will is too weak to make a beginning and to convert itself to God 
by its own powers and to be obedient to God's Law from the heart, 
nevertheless, when the Holy Ghost makes a beginning and calls 
us through the Gospel and offers us His grace, the forgiveness of 
sins, and eternal salvation, then the free will, from its own natural 
powers, can meet God and to a certain extent, although feebly, do 
something towards it, help, and cooperate thereto, can qualify itself 
for, and apply itself to, grace, and apprehend, accept it, and believe 
the Gospel, and can also cooperate by its own powers with the Holy 
Ghost in the continuation and maintenance of this work." (Thor. 
Decl., II, 77.) 

In opposition to this error the Formula of Concord declares: 
"In spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart, and will of 
the unregenerate man are utterly unable by their own natural 
powers to understand, believe, accept, think, will, begin, effect, do, 
work, or concur in working, anything, but they are entirely dead 
to what is good, and corrupt, so that in man's nature since the 
Fall, before regeneration, there is not the least spark of spiritual 
power remaining nor present, by which of himself he can prepare 
himself for God's grace or accept the offered grace, nor be capable 
of it for and of himself, or apply or accommodate himself thereto, 
or by his own powers be able of himself, as of himself, to aid, do, 



work, or concur in working, anything towards his conversion, either 
wholly or half or in any, even the least or most inconsiderable, 
part ; but he is the servant of sin, John 8, 34, and a captive of the 
devil, by whom he is moved, Eph. 2, 2 ; 2 Tim. 2, 26. Hence the 
natural free will according to its perverted disposition and nature 
is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and 
contrary to God." (Thor. Decl., II, 7.) 

Among the arguments that have been used to oppose the 
Scripture-doctrine of man's total loss of free will in spiritual 
matters the following may be considered as the most important : — 

1. It must be true that natural man has a free will in spiritual 
matters since St. Paul declares that the "Gentiles do by nature the 
things contained in the Law," Kom. 2, 14. — Reply: St. Paul here 
describes only the external obedience (quoad materiale) of the 
heathen and not the true obedience, which flows from faith and 
love toward God (quoad formale); for the same apostle who de- 
clares that the heathen do the things contained in the Law also 
declares that they are without God and without hope in the world, 
Eph. 2, 12, alienated from God, Col. 1, 21, and His enemies, 
Rom. 8, 7. While to a certain extent the heathen may exercise 
themselves in civil righteousness (iustitia civilis), they are in- 
capable of spiritual righteousness (iustitia spiritualis). Homo 
reiicit evangelium naturd, credit gratia. 

2. Natural man must have a free will in spiritual matters, 
since God commands him to obey the Law and to believe the 
Gospel, Matt. 22, 37—39; Acts 16, 31. — Reply: From the divine 
command we must not infer the human ability to comply with the 
divine command. (A praecepto divino ad posse humanum non 
valet consequential The same Word of God which demands obe- 
dience to the Law, Gal. 3, 10, and faith in the Gospel, Mark 1, 15 ; 
Acts 16, 31, teaches also that natural man cannot obey the Law, 
Eccl. 7, 20 ; Ps. 143, 2 ; Is. 64, 6, nor believe in Christ by his own 
strength, John 6,44; 2 Cor. 3, 5. Yet neither are the commands 
of the Law (adhortationes legates) useless, Luke 10, 28, nor are the 
Gospel exhortations (adhortationes evangelicae) in vain, Matt. 

11, 28; for by the former the Holy Spirit works knowledge of sin, 
Rom. 3, 20, while by the latter He works faith, Rom. 10, 17; 1 Cor. 

12, 3, so that the good and gracious will of God is actually accom- 
plished in the sinner, who is called to repentance, by the preaching 
of the divine Word. 

3. Natural man must have a free will in spiritual matters since 



his conversion without his cooperation would imply coercion on 
God's part. — Reply : The conversion of a sinner is indeed the 
work of God's almighty power, Eph. 1, 19 ; but it is not an irre- 
sistible or coercive power since it may be resisted, Matt. 23, 37. 
However, the very nature of conversion excludes the idea of co- 
ercion; for it consists essentially in the gracious drawing of the 
sinner by God Himself, John 6, 44, which is accomplished through 
the means of grace, Rom. 10, 17. The Formula of Concord says: 
*'[We reject] also when the following expressions are employed, . . . 
namely, that . . . the Holy Ghost is given to those who resist Him 
intentionally and persistently; for, as Augustine says, in conver- 
sion God makes willing persons out of the unwilling and dwells in 
the willing." (Epit., II, 15.) 

4. Natural man must have a free will in spiritual matters 
since God works only the power to believe, but not faith itself. — 
Reply: This argument is based upon a false premise; for God 
"worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure," 
Phil. 2, 13. (Cp. also Eph. 1, 19; Phil. 1, 29.) In other words, 
the very faith by which we are saved is God's gracious gift and 
work in us. 

5. Natural man must have a free will in spiritual matters; 
for without his cooperation in conversion not he, but the Holy 
Spirit would believe. — Reply : The fallacy involved in this argu- 
ment becomes clear when we consider that, though temporal life 
is the gift of God, bestowed upon man without his cooperation, 
yet the person so endowed with life himself lives, so that God 
does not do the living for him. It is the same with faith, which 
indeed is God's gift, but at the same time a gift that the believer 
himself possesses. 2 Tim. 1, 12: "I know whom I have believed." 

6. Natural man must have a free will in spiritual matters 
since he can read the Bible, hear the Word of God, exercise him- 
self in civil righteousness, etc. — Reply : All these works are ex- 
ternal only, and not the fruits of true faith in Christ and of true 
love to God. The self-righteous Pharisee remained unconverted 
though he did all this and more, Luke 18, 10 — 14. 

7. Natural man must have a free will in spiritual matters; 
for if he can damn himself by refusing to believe, it follows with 
irresistible logic that he can also save himself by desiring and 
endeavoring to believe. — Reply : Scripture teaches very emphati- 
cally that the one does not follow from the other, Hos. 13, 9. 

All these and other objections to divine monergism in con- 



version flow from the carnal heart, which is as proud as it is self- 
righteous. Those who have advanced these arguments might be 
divided into three classes : — 

a) Pelagians, "who taught that man by his own powers, with- 
out the grace of the Holy Ghost, can turn Himself to God, believe 
the Gospel, be obedient from the heart to God's Law, and thus 
merit the forgiveness of sins and eternal life." (Formula of Con- 
cord, Epit., II, 9ff.) 

b) Semi-Pelagians (Arminians), "who teach that man by his 
own powers can make a beginning of his conversion, but without 
the grace of God cannot complete it." (Ibid.) 

c) Synergists, who teach "that, ... if the Holy Ghost by the 
preaching of the Word has made a beginning and therein offered 
His grace, then the will of man from its own natural powers can 
add something, though little and feebly, to this end, can help and 
cooperate, qualify, and prepare itself for grace, and embrace and 
accept it, and believe the Gospel." (Ibid.) 

From the gross synergism of Melanchthon, who taught that 
man can cooperate in his conversion by his natural powers, we 
distinguish the subtle synergism of the later dogmaticians (Later- 
mann), which claims that man can cooperate in his conversion 
with spiritual powers bestowed on him by the Holy Ghost. Both 
types place the cause of conversion and salvation in man himself. 
But man cooperates towards his conversion neither by natural nor 
by spiritual powers; not by natural powers, since by nature he is 
an enemy of God; and not by spiritual powers bestowed upon 
him, since he is already converted as soon as he is in possession 
of spiritual powers. 

Regarding this point the Formula of Concord teaches: 
"Through this means, namely, the preaching and hearing of His 
Word, God works and breaks our hearts and draws man, so that 
through the preaching of the Law he comes to know his sins and 
God's wrath and experiences in his heart true terrors, contrition, 
and sorrow, and through the preaching and consideration of the 
holy Gospel concerning the gracious forgiveness of sins in Christ 
a spark of faith is kindled in him, which accepts the forgiveness 
of sins for Christ's sake and comforts itself with the promise of 
the Gospel; and thus the Holy Ghost (who works all this) is sent 
into the heart, Gal. 4, 6." (Thor. Decl., II, 54.) 







(Dei Gratia erga Homines Lapsos.) 


According to the express teaching of Holy Scripture no man 
after the Fall can be justified and saved by the deeds of the Law, 
or through good works. Rom. 3, 20 : "By the deeds of the Law 
there shall no flesh be justified in His sight." All who endeavor 
to acquire salvation by the works of the Law shall not be justified, 
but damned. Gal. 3, 10 : "As many as are of the works of the Law 
are under the curse." The reason for this is that no man after 
the Fall can fulfil the divine Law or satisfy the claims of divine 
justice. Rom. 3, 10: "There is none righteous, no, not one";. 
3, 23: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." 
Hence, so far as the divine Law is concerned, all men after the 
Fall are forever lost and condemned, Matt. 19, 26; Rom. 8, 3. 4. 

Yet, as Scripture clearly teaches, it is the gracious will of 
God that not a single sinner in the world be lost, 2 Pet. 3, 9; 
1 Tim. 2, 4. For this reason God has most mercifully provided 
a way of salvation by which every sinner can be saved, John 3, 16; 
Matt. 18, 11, namely, the way of grace, through faith in Christ, 
without the works of the Law. Rom. 3, 24 : "Being justified freely 
by His grace, dcoQeav rfj avrov x^Q lTl » through the redemption, 
did Tijq &7ioXvTQU)OE<Ds, the ransom, that is in Christ Jesus"; Eph. 
2, 8. 9 ; "By grace are ye saved, through faith ; and that not of 
yourselves, it is the gift of God ; not of works, lest any man should 
boast." This gracious way of salvation is revealed in the Gospel, 
for which reason this is called "the Gospel of the grace of God," 
Acts 20, 24. The doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is 
both the basic and the distinctive article of Christianity, by which 
it is distinguished from all man-made religions as the only true 
and divine religion, Mark 16, 15. 16; Acts 4, 12; for whereas all 
man-made religions teach salvation by works, Christianity pro- 
claims as its central and fundamental message the gracious remis- 
sion of sin through faith in Christ Jesus, Acts 10, 43 ; 26, 18. 

Since sinful man is saved alone by grace, the Scriptural state- 
ments that sinners are saved by the Gospel, Rom. 1, 16, or by Bap- 
tism, 1 Pet. 3, 21, or by faith, Luke 7, 50, must all be understood 
in relation to saving grace. In particular, they are descriptive of 


the means by which saving grace is conferred and appropriated 
without any merit, or work, on the part of the sinner. To be saved 
by the Gospel, by Baptism, by faith, etc., means to be saved by 
grace, without the deeds of the Law, through the divinely appointed 
means, by which alone the merits of Christ can be received. 

From the viewpoint of fallen man we speak of the necessity 
of divine grace, since without grace it is impossible for the sinner 
to be saved. However, from the viewpoint of God divine grace 
must be viewed, not as necessary, but as free, because God was not 
moved by any necessity inherent in His essence to save guilty man- 
kind, but alone by His mercy and compassion, John 3, 16 ; Luke 
1, 78. Deus est causa libera beatitudinis nostrae. The view that 
the redemption of the world was a necessary unfolding of the divine 
essence must be rejected as a pantheistic delusion. 


Saving grace {gratia salvifica, x&Q 1 ^ ocoitjQiog), by which God 
is moved to forgive sin and to bestow salvation upon fallen man- 
kind, is His gracious disposition (gratuitus Dei favor), or benev- 
olent inclination, mediated through Christ's vicarious atonement, 
revealed in the Gospel, and witnessed to the world in order that 
it may be believed by all men, Eom. 3, 24. 25; John 20, 31. 
Luther: "God's love or favor, which He cherishes toward us in 
Himself"; "Gottes Huld oder Gunst, die er zu uns traegt bet sich 
selbst" Gratia Dei aliquid in Deo, sc. affectus Dei benevolus, est 
non quaiitas animi in hominibus. Synonyms of grace, in this 
sense, are love (John 3,16), mercy (Titus 3,5), kindness (Titus 
3,4), etc., all of which describe more fully God's benevolent dis- 
position by which He is moved not to condemn, but to save, fallen 
mankind by faith in His beloved Son. 

Although the term grace properly denotes God's unmerited 
favor in Christ Jesus, Scripture uses it also to describe the spir- 
itual gifts or excellences which God, as the gracious Lord, works 
in all believers and by virtue of which they begin to fulfil the Law 
(willing and faithful service, 1 Pet. 4, 10; patience in suffering, 
1 Pet. 2, 19 ; conscientious administration of the office of the min- 
istry, Rom. 15, 15. 16; etc.). In this case the effect, by way of 
metonymy, is named after the cause, or the gifts of grace are 
named after their divine Source. Nomen gratiae per metonymiam 
[effvctus pro causa~] pro donis ex benevolentia Dei in nos collatis 



Grace in this sense must be definitely excluded as a cause of 
forgiveness of sin and salvation, since Scripture teaches expressly 
that the sinner is justified and saved without the deeds of the Law, 
Rom. 3, 28 ; Eph. 2, 8. 9. The believer owes his salvation not to 
inherent or infused grace, or the grace which is in him, but alone 
to the benevolent disposition in God, or the gratuitus Dei favor. 
In other words, when we say that we are saved by grace, we do 
not refer to divine grace as it exerts itself in us, but as it is found 
outside of us, in God. So also faith does not justify and save 
either as a good quality (nova qualitas), or as a good work (opus 
per se dignum), or as a gift of God (donum Spiritus Sancti), or 
as a source of good works in us, but alone as the receiving means 
(Sgyavov ArjnTixov), by which man, who in himself is ungodly, 
appropriates to himself the grace of God and the merits of Christ 
through implicit trust in the promises of the Gospel. 

In short, faith justifies solely by virtue of its object, which is 
Jesus Christ, the Crucified, Gal. 2, 16; 1 Cor.*2, 2. Luther: Non 
per se ant virtute aliqua intrinseca fides iustificat, sed simpliciter 
quatenus habet se correlative ad Christum. This truth Scripture 
teaches clearly by placing faith in opposition to works whenever 
it describes the way in which the sinner is justified. Rom. 4, 5 : 
"To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth 
the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" ; Eph. 2, 8. 9 : 
"By grace are ye saved, through faith, . . . not of works." 

This sharp distinction between grace as God's unmerited favor 
and grace as a gift of God (donum gratiae) in the article of justi- 
fication is of the greatest importance ; for all who teach that grace 
in the sense of infused grace (gratia infusa) is either the sole or 
a concomitant cause of justification inculcate salvation by works 
and have fallen from grace, Gal. 5, 4. In reality, while retaining 
the Christian terminology, they are teaching the paganistic doc- 
trine of work-righteousness. 

This pernicious mingling of grace and the gifts of grace is 
the basic error of the Eoman Catholic Church, which in the Deci- 
sions of the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, Can. XI) has anathema- 
tized the definition of justifying grace as gratuitus Dei favor, from 
which infused grace must be rigidly excluded. But also the Re- 
formed are obliged to rely on infused grace for justification since 
they deny that God's grace (gratia universalis) is seriously offered 
to all sinners in the Gospel and the Sacraments. They are there- 
fore compelled to rely for the personal assurance of their justifica- 


tion on something within themselves or upon their renewal, or 
their good works, in short, upon infused grace. The same is true 
of all enthusiasts who assume a revealing and sanctifying operation 
of the Holy Ghost outside the divinely appointed means of grace 
(the Word and the Sacraments), no matter by what names they 
may be known. Zwingli, in Fidei Ratio: "Dux autem vel vehicw- 
lum Spiritui non est necessarium" Since in this case the believer 
cannot rely for justification and salvation on the objective promises 
of God, he must rely on the feeling of grace ( sensus gratiae ) within 
his heart, or upon divine grace as it exerts itself in him. 

It is true, wherever the grace of God in Christ Jesus is 
accepted in true faith, there good works must needs follow, and 
at times there will also be the comforting feeling of divine grace. 
But if the believer puts his trust in his spiritual renewal or in the 
presence of grace in his heart, Christ's perfect work of redemption, 
or the objective reconciliation effected by Him, 2 Cor. 5, 19, is 
denied. But then also the essence of justifying faith, which is 
trust in the objective divine promises of grace, Eom. 4, 18. 25, 
is denied. In the final analysis, then, also the certainty of salva- 
tion must be denied; for if salvation is based upon good works, 
such a person's hope of heaven is absolutely futile. 

By reaffirming the true definition of justifying grace as 
gratuitus Dei favor and excluding from it the false conception of 
infused grace, correcting in this respect even St. Augustine, the 
Church of the Reformation returned to the apostolic purity of the 
Christian faith. The confessional Lutheran Church of America 
follows in the footsteps of the great Reformer and in the article 
of justification sharply distinguishes between grace and the gifts 
of grace, or between God's unmerited favor and its benefactions 
in the believer's heart. For this reason it constantly bears witness 
not only against Catholicism, Zwinglianism, and enthusiasm, but 
also against synergism (Arminianism), which denies the sola gratia 
and places the cause of man's justification to some extent in him 
(aliquid in homine), thus inducing him to trust for salvation both 
in divine grace and in human goodness. 

While the synergists include man's moral conduct, or his self- 
decision, or his right attitude toward grace, in justifying faith, 
the Arminians insist that justifying faith embraces also the good 
works of believers. According to their teaching the believer, seek- 
ing assurance of his salvation, must trust in the divine grace within 
himself (gratia infusa), or in his sanctification. 



From the above it is obvious how important it is for the 
Christian theologian to maintain the Scriptural definition of justi- 
fying grace; for without it he can neither teach the true doctrine 
of justification as revealed in the Gospel nor exclude from justifica- 
tion the doctrine of salvation by good works, nor can he rightly 
comfort any sinner who seeks assurance of salvation. Hence, wher- 
ever the Scriptural doctrine of justifying grace is perverted, the 
entire Christian doctrine becomes corrupted and paganized. It is 
for this reason that Luther and all orthodox Lutheran theologians 
so earnestly insisted upon having this Bible doctrine taught in the 
Church, that justifying grace is God's unmerited favor in Christ 
Jesus. The Apology declares : "It is necessary that in the Church 
of Christ the Gospel be retained, i. e., the promise that for Christ's 
sake sins are freely remitted. Those who teach nothing of this 
faith . . . altogether abolish the Gospel. (Art. IV (II), 120. 
Triglotta, p. 155.) Chemnitz says: "Gratia in articvXo iustifica- 
tionis ititelligenda est de sola gratuita misericordia Dei/' With 
this definition of justifying grace the Christian Church stands or 
falls (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae). 


The attributes, or adjuncts, of justifying grace are as follows : 
a. Justifying grace is grace in Christ. Justifying grace is not 
absolute grace, or grace bestowed upon the sinner by a fiat of the 
divine sovereign will, but grace mediated through Christ, or grace 
in or for the sake of Christ. In other words, according to Scrip- 
ture, God is gracious to sinful and condemned mankind only in 
view of the fact that the incarnate Son of God through His vica- 
rious atonement (satisf actio vicaria) has ransomed all sinners 
from the curse and condemnation of the Law. Rom. 3, 24 : "Being 
justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus." The price which Christ paid for the redemption 
of guilty mankind was that He of His own free will placed Him- 
self both under the obligation (Gal. 4, 4. 5, obedientia activa) and 
the curse and punishment (Gal. 3, 13, obedientia passiva) of the 
divine Law which man had violated. 

Divine grace therefore does not exclude divine justice (iustitia 
Dei vindicativa) , but rather presupposes or implies the satisfaction 
of its demands through Christ's vicarious death, Eom. 8, 3. 4. For 
this reason the Gospel, which offers divine grace to all men, Titus 
2, 11, is not a message of grace apart from Christ's death (Mod- 



ernists, rationalists, Harnack: "The Son of God does not belong 
into the Gospel"), but "the Word of Reconciliation/' koyog rrjg 
xcnaXXayijg, 2 Cor. 5, 19, that is, the unique message that God 
"hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ," or that "God 
was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." 

Scripture thus leaves no room for grace without the payment 
of the penalty of man's sin. God neither forgives sin by ignoring 
His justice, nor does He accept the worthless ransom-price (good 
works), which men offer Him to satisfy the eternal claims of His 
justice. Divine grace for sinners could be secured only through 
the unspeakable sacrifice of Christ's vicarious obedience, Heb. 7, 
26. 27; Eph. 2, 13—16; Col. 1, 20—22. Hence the axiom: 
"Divine grace and human merit exclude each other; but divine 
grace includes the divine merits of Christ." 

Luther very aptly writes on this subject: "I have often said 
before that faith in God alone is not sufficient, for also the costs 
must be paid. The Turks and the Jews also believe in God, but 
without the means and the costs. And what is the cost? That 
the Gospel shows. . . . Christ here teaches that we are not lost, 
but have eternal life, that is, that God so loved us that He was 
willing to pay the cost, the putting of His only, beloved Child into 
our misery, into hell and death, which He made Him drink to the 
dregs." (St. L., XI, 1085 ff.) Again: "Though grace is given to 
us for nothing, so that it does not cost us anything, yet it cost 
some one else on our behalf very much; for it has been secured 
through an uncountable, infinite treasure, namely, through God's 
Son Himself." (Ibid.) 

Such questions as, "Could not God be gracious to men because 
of His sovereign power as supreme Judge, without Christ's atone- 
ment?" or, "Is it not a thought unworthy of God that His grace 
toward sinners had first to be purchased by the perfect obedience 
of His Son?" are both useless and foolish; for the fact that God 
is gracious to sinners only for Christ's sake is emphatically stated 
in His Word and must be believed by all men if they desire to 
obtain divine grace and eternal life, 2 Cor. 5, 18 — 20. All who 
teach that God is gracious to sinners without the death of Christ 
(Unitarians, Modernists, Kitschl, Harnack, etc.) reject the Chris- 
tian faith, champion pagan doctrine, and are outside the pale of 
the Christian Church ; for the Christian Church is the communion 
of believers who trust in the gracious remission of their sins through 
the blood of Christ, Gal. 3, 26 ; Eph. 1, 7. So Chemnitz writes : 



Extra Christum nulla gratia et misericordia Dei erga peccatores 
nec debet nec potest recte cogitari. (Harm. Ev., c. 28, p. 152.) 
Hence those who deny Christ's vicarious atonement likewise deny 
the grace of God. 

However, divine grace is denied also by those who claim that 
Christ's atonement was in itself not adequate as a ransom, but was 
declared and accepted as such for the acquittal of the sinner by 
God's own mere volition (the theory of acceptilation ; Scotists, 
Arminians). This theory, in the final analysis, ascribes the for- 
giveness of sins to God's sovereign will and thus reduces the value 
of Christ's vicarious suffering and death. But Scripture bases 
divine grace not merely in part, but wholly on Christ's atoning 
work, so that there is no grace for sinners but that which is in 
Christ Jesus, Rom. 3, 24; Acts 4, 12. According to Scripture the 
expression "the Gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20, 24) and 
" Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2, 2) are synonymous, so 
that he who preaches the one must preach also the other. 

The Augsburg Confession emphasizes this truth when it says : 
"Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their 
own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's 
sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into 
favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who by 
His death has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God im- 
putes for righteousness in His sight, Rom. 3 and 4." (Art. IV. 
Cp. also Luther, St. L., XII, 261 ff.) 

b. Justifying grace is universal (gratia universalis). The un- 
merited favor and love of God in Christ Jesus extends not merely 
to some (the elect), but to all men without exception. Gratia Dei 
salvifica erga homines lapsos non particularism sed universalis est. 
This paramount truth Scripture teaches in all passages in which it 
declares a) that Christ is the Savior of the whole world, of all men, 
John 3, 16 ; 1, 29 ; 1 John 2, 2 ; 1 Tim. 2, 4 ; Titus 2, 11 ; b) that 
God earnestly desires that each individual person be saved, 2 Pet. 
3,9; Ezek. 33, 11; 18,23.32; c) that salvation has been secured 
even for those who reject the grace of God and are thus lost on 
account of their unbelief, Matt. 23, 37 ; Acts 7, 51 ; 1 Cor. 8, 11 ; 
2 Pet. 2, 1. The universality of divine grace is denied by all who 
limit the purpose and efficacy of divine grace to the elect (par- 
ticularism, gratia particularis) . 

These errorists may be divided into three groups: a) Supra- 
lapsarians: God decreed to create some to damnation; b) Infra- 



lapsarians: God decreed to leave some in the state of damnation 
into which they had fallen through their own fault (praeteritio) ; 
c) Amyraldists: God indeed offers grace to all, but bestows faith 
only upon the elect. 

Every form of particularism is anti-Scriptural, being based 
upon the fallacy that, since not all men are actually saved, God 
does not desire the salvation of all. Misled by their error, all par- 
ticularists claim that the term world (John 3, 16; 1, 29) signifies 
"the elect," and they substitute for God's universal counsel of grace 
(1 Tim. 2,4) a voluntas signi, in opposition to which stands His 
voluntas beneplaciti. That is to say, God indeed wishes to save 
all men according to that will which He has revealed in Scripture 
(voluntas signi, the revealed will) ; but by His secret will (voluntas 
beneplaciti, the will of His purpose), which is not revealed in 
Scripture, He wishes to save only the elect. 

According to Calvinistic doctrine, God, in the final analysis, 
is the cause why some are not saved, while Scripture expressly 
teaches that those who are not saved perish through their unbelief, 
or rejection of divine grace, Luke 7, 30 ; Acts 13, 46 ; 7, 51 ; Matt. 
23, 37. Charles Hodge writes : "It cannot be supposed that God 
intends what is never accomplished; that He purposes what He 
does not intend to effect. ... If all men are not saved, God never 
purposed their salvation and never devised, and put into operation, 
means designed to accomplish that end. We must assume that 
the result is the interpretation of the purposes of God." (System- 
atic Theol., II, 323.) 

In order to support the doctrine of particularism, the Synod 
of Dort (1618 — 19) declared that God can never be resisted when- 
ever He earnestly offers His grace to men (irresistible grace). 
But also this doctrine is anti-Scriptural ; for Scripture affirms that 
the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel can be resisted, 
Acts 7, 51; Matt. 23, 37, though the operation is itself one of 
divine power, Eph. 1, 19. 20. As in the realm of grace God can 
be resisted when He works through means, so also in the realm of 
nature ; for life, which is originated and sustained alone by divine 
omnipotence, Acts 17, 28, can nevertheless be destroyed by feeble 
man. God indeed cannot be resisted when He deals with man 
in His sovereign majesty (Luther: in nuda maiestate, Matt. 
25, 31 ff.); but when He approaches man through means, resis- 
tance on his part is always possible. 

If the objection is raised that God becomes the cause of a 


sinner's damnation at least in eases where He hardens his heart 
(cf. the divine judgment of obduration), we reply that according 
to Scripture God very earnestly offers His grace even to those who 
harden their hearts, Kom. 10, 21 ; Ex. 5, Iff. The divine judgment 
of obduration is never absolute or arbitrary; God hardens only 
those who first have hardened themselves by resisting His Word 
And will, Rom. 11, 7. 20. 

c. Justifying grace is serious and efficacious (gratia seria et 
•efficax). In spite of the fact that divine grace can be resisted 
(gratia resistibilis), we must not regard it as a "fruitless wish" 
or an "indifferent complacency by which God does not desire to 
■effect or obtain the things which please Him" ( otiosa complacentia, 
nuda velleitas), but as both serious and efficacious. That is to say, 
God seriously purposes, by sufficient and efficacious means, to effect 
the salvation of all men, Rom. 2, 4; 1, 16. 

This truth is proved from a) the divine command to preach 
the Gospel to every creature, Mark 16, 15. 16, and make disciples 
of all nations, Matt. 28, 19. 20, which certainly must not be con- 
strued as mockery on the part of God; b) His divine promise to 
grant His Holy Spirit to all who hear His Word in order that He 
may work in them saving faith, Zech. 12, 10 ; Acts 2, 17. 18 ; Ezek. 
11,19.20; 36,26.27; Acts 2,38; 7,51; c) His comforting as- 
surance that He will not only begin, but also perform, finish, the 
good work in all believers, Phil. 1, 6; and d) His most serious 
endeavor to work faith in those who resist the Holy Spirit, Matt. 
23, 37 ; Acts 7, 51, so that, if the wicked perish, they do so solely 
through their unbelief, 2 Cor. 4, 3. 4. 

In opposition to Scripture the efficaciousness of divine grace 
is denied a) by all particularists (Calvinists), who limit God's effi- 
cacious desire to effect salvation in men to the elect; b) by all 
synergists, who teach that God works in man only the ability to 
believe, not faith itself, since the latter, they say, depends on man's 
own decision or good conduct or his omission of malicious oppo- 
sition. However, according to Scripture, God bestows not only the 
power to believe, but also faith itself, Phil. 1, 29. In opposition 
to Pelagianism and synergism, Scripture teaches that all who be- 
lieve in Christ believe solely by virtue of divine grace and not 
through their own power or effort (sola gratia), while over against 
Calvinism it affirms that those who remain in unbelief do so not 
because divine grace is inefficacious in their case, but because they 
maliciously resist the Holy Spirit. 


It is true, when we maintain universal and serious grace 
(gratia universalis, gratia seria et efficax), on the one hand, and 
the sola gratia, on the other, the question arises: "Why, then, 
are some saved and others not (cur alii, alii nonf), though all men 
by nature are in the same guilt and corruption (in eadem culpa) V 9 
The particularists (Calvinists) answer the question by denying the 
gratia universalis; the synergists, by denying the sola gratia. Both 
solutions are alike unscriptural, since Holy Writ most emphatically 
teaches both, gratia universalis and sola gratia. The true Lutheran 
Church does not attempt any solution of the question at all, but 
regards it as an unsolvable mystery, which human reason should 
not try to explore. The two truths regarding man's salvation 
which Holy Scripture clearly reveals are : a) Those who are saved 
are saved by grace alone, without any merit on their part; b) those 
who are lost are lost through their own fault. Beyond these two 
revealed facts no Christian theologian dare go. (Cp. Formula of 
Concord, XI, 54—59.) 

Also with respect to the heathen we must maintain the gratia 
universalis because Holy Scripture includes all men in the gracious 
counsel of salvation. To deny the clear Scripture-teaching of 
universal grace because many heathen have never received the 
Gospel of salvation is an offense against the very divine grace 
which has enriched the world with the saving truth, Mark 16, 
15. 16 ; Matt. 28, 19. On the basis of Scripture we therefore be- 
lieve that God's gracious will extends to the heathen also, though 
actually thousands of them perish without the Gospel. Nor are 
we to assume that the heathen are saved without the divinely ap- 
pointed means of grace, Eph. 2, 12, since Holy Scripture teaches 
that the means of grace (the Word and the Sacraments) are ap- 
pointed for the salvation of all sinners, Mark 16, 15. 16 ; Matt. 28, 
19. 20. The opinion that the heathen may be converted after death 
is anti-Scriptural, Heb. 9, 27. The passage 1 Pet. 3, 18 ff. does not 
treat of salvation possible after death, but of the condemnation of 
those who during their life on earth refused to accept the saving 
Word of God. 


The unmerited favor and love of God which He cherishes 
toward all sinners in Christ Jesus is called also God's good and 
gracious will. 1 Tim. 2, 4 : ftebg &£Xei. On the basis of clear Scrip- 
ture-passages depicting God's disposition toward mankind we speak 



of the divine will as being ordinate, conditional, antecedent and 
consequent, revealed and hidden, etc. Care must be taken that 
these terms are rightly understood and properly used. 

a. The divine will by which God earnestly desires the salva- 
tion of all men (voluntas gratiae) is not absolute (voluntas abso- 
luta), but ordinate (voluntas ordinata), inasmuch as it is based 
upon Christ's vicarious obedience ( satisf actio vicaria ) and on God's 
part embraces the conferring means (the Word and the Sacra- 
ments, media donxd) and on the part of man the receiving means 
(faith, medium XrjTtxixov). In other words, God earnestly desires 
to save all men, but only for Christ's sake and by faith, which He 
Himself works in man through the means of grace, Mark 16, 
15. 16; Rom. 10, 17. The divine will of grace may be called abso- 
lute only in the sense of its being entirely independent of human 
merit or worthiness; it is not absolute in the sense of being inde- 
pendent of the merit of Christ. 

b. The expression conditional will (voluntas conditionuta) is 
ambiguous and may be used both correctly and wrongly. It is 
used correctly when it is employed in the sense of ordinate will 
(voluntas ordinata), that is to say, when it expresses the para- 
mount truth that God desires to save sinners only through Christ, 
through the means of grace and faith kindled by these. It is used 
wrongly when it is employed in the synergistic sense, that man's 
salvation depends, in part at least, on his cooperation in conver- 
sion or that man's salvation is conditioned by his good conduct. 

If the objection is raised that Scripture itself conditions man's 
salvation upon his obedience, we distinguish between God's will 
as revealed in the Law and His will as revealed in the Gospel 
( GesetzesmlUj Evangeliumswille). The divine Law indeed de- 
mands perfect obedience of all men, Matt. 22, 37 — 40, and to 
this demand is attached the promise: "This do, and thou shalt 
live," Luke 10, 28. Such legal promises always presuppose a real 
condition; for if a person keeps the Law perfectly, he merits 
eternal life. 

However, because sinful man, corrupted by the Fall, cannot 
keep the divine Law perfectly, God in His infinite grace has given 
lost mankind the wonderful Gospel promise that every sinner should 
be saved by grace, through faith, without the deeds of the Law, 
Rom. 3, 28; Gal. 2, 16. This is the gracious will of God revealed 
in the Gospel, which offers and conveys salvation to all men as 
a free gift, Eph. 2, 8. 9. Hence in all Scripture-passages which say 


that, if sinners believe, they shall live, John 6,47; 20,29; Acts 
13, 39 ; 16, 31, the protasis must not be regarded as a real condi- 
tion, but merely as showing the way or manner in which a sinner 
is saved. The statement of Christ 'He that believeth on Me hath 
everlasting lif e," John 6, 47, does not mean : "Provided you fulfil 
the condition of believing, you have eternal lif e," but : "You have 
eternal life by faith/' faith being the receiving means of salvation, 
not its meritorious cause, Rom. 3, 28. Heerbrand : Fides non est 
conditio, neque ut conditio requiritur, . . . sed est modus quidam, 
oblatum beneficium et donatum per et propter Christum accipiens. 
Manus non conditio dicitur, sed medium et instrumentum, quo 
eleemosyna accipitur. 

c. The distinction between voluntas antecedent (prima) and 
voluntas consequent (secunda) is Scriptural if it is understood in 
the sense of John 3, 16 — 18. It is indeed the gracious will of God 
that all men should believe in Christ and be saved by faith in Him 
(voluntas antecedent). However, if sinners reject the grace of 
God and maliciously refuse to believe in Christ, then it is God's 
will that they should be damned, Mark 16, 15. 16. Thus the 
voluntas antecedent applies to all men, while the voluntas conse- 
quens applies to all who perish through their unbelief. 

Nevertheless, as Gerhard rightly remarks, this division dis- 
tinguishes not the will by itself, which in God is one and undivided, 
just as also His essence is one, but its twofold relation. According 
to the first, God, as Gerhard comments, acts as a most gracious 
father (benignissimus pater); according to the second, as a most 
just judge (iustissimut iudex). The expressions antecedent will 
and consequent will have not always been used in the same sense, 
so that much confusion has resulted from their use. Hollaz thus 
uses the term voluntas consequent in an unscriptural sense when he 
says : "The consequent will is that by which God . . . elects those 
to eternal life who, He foresees, will use the ordinary means and 
will persevere in faith to the end of life." (Doctr. Theol., p. 282.) 

The will of God is said to be antecedent and consequent 
a) neither with regard to time, as though the antecedent will pre- 
ceded the consequent in time, since God is free from any limitations 
of time; b) nor with regard to the divine will itself, as though 
there were two actually distinct wills in God; but c) according 
to our mode of conception, so that we may clearly know that God 
desires to save all believers and to damn all unbelievers. Hence 
the antecedent will of God is rightly defined as His will of mercy 



(voluntas misericordiae) and His consequent will as His will of 
justice (voluntas iustitiae). Luther: "God does not deal with us 
according to His majesty, but puts on a human form and speaks 
to us throughout Scripture as man to man." (St. L., I, 1442.) 

d. The distinction between the revealed will ( voluntas revelata, 
voluntas signi) and the hidden will (voluntas abscondita, voluntas 
beneplaciti) of God is used correctly if the former is referred to- 
the divine will revealed in Scripture, 1 Cor. 2, 10. 16, and the 
second to the divine will which man neither knows nor can know,, 
Horn. 11, 34. The revealed will of God includes both the Law, by 
which He demands of all men perfect obedience and threatens to- 
damn all who transgress His commandments, and the Gospel, 
according to which God is willing to save all sinners by grace, 
through faith in Christ, without the deeds of the Law. This re- 
vealed will is fittingly called the "will of the sign" (voluntas signi) 
because God has manifested it to us by the sign of His Word. The 
hidden will (voluntas abscondita, voluntas beneplaciti) embraces 
the "unsearchable judgments" of God and "His ways which are 
past finding out," Rom. 11, 33 — 35, as these are shown in the lives 
of both nations and individuals (Esau and Jacob, Jews and Gen- 
tiles, Rom. 9 — 11). 

These unsearchable judgments the Christian theologian must 
not try to explore; much less should he endeavor to explain them 
(Cur non omnesf) by denying either the gratia universalis (Cal- 
vinism: "God does not desire to save all men") or the sola gratia 
(synergism, Arminianism, Semi-Pelaganiasm : "Man is not saved 
by grace alone"). The folly of both Calvinism and synergism con- 
sists in the futile endeavor to change the hidden will of God into 
a revealed will or to ascertain that which God has not revealed in 
His Word, an attempt which needs must be futile since the "reve- 
lations" thus supplied do not come from God, but from the igno- 
rant, blinded human mind. 





Since the grace of God toward sinful mankind is not absolute, 
or arbitrary, but mediate (in Christ Jesus, Rom. 3, 24), the re- 
demption of our Savior constitutes its indispensable foundation^ 
1 Cor. 3, 11. 

The doctrine of Christ (Christology) therefore follows logically 
upon that of divine grace as the cardinal article of the Christian 
faith, with which the Church stands or falls (articulus stantis et 
cadentis ecclesiae). While usually this expression is applied to the 
doctrine of justification, and rightly so, we must not forget that 
without the vicarious satisfaction of Christ there could be no doc- 
trine of justification by grace, through faith. Hence, as the re- 
deeming work of our Lord is the foundation of the doctrine of 
divine grace, so it is the foundation also of the doctrine of justi- 
fication. This becomes evident when we consider that faith justifies 
only as trust in Christ as the divine Redeemer, who died for our 
sins (Matt. 16, 13 — 17; 1 Tim. 2, 6: &vxikvxQov ynkg jtdvra)v) T 
and not as trust in Him as a new "Teacher of ethics," or as a "per- 
fect Ideal," or as a "great Revealer" of the "fatherhood of God," 
and the like. In view of this fact the paramount importance of 
the doctrine of Christ is obvious. 

The doctrine of Christ is commonly treated under three heads : 
A. the Doctrine of the Person of Christ (de persona Christi sive 
de Christo deav&gcbTicp); B. the Doctrine of the States of Christ 
(de stationibus exinanitionis et exaltationis) ; C. the Doctrine of 
the Work of Christ (de officio Christi). Under these three heads 
it is possible to group all truths which Holy Scripture reveals 
concerning our Lord and His work and to refute whatever errors 
have been voiced against them. 

The assumption that the Son of God would have become in- 
carnate even if man had not fallen into sin must be rejected as 
a useless, yes, dangerous speculation. It is useless, since human 
reason without divine revelation can never discover what God would 
have done had man not destroyed his happiness by sinning. It is 
dangerous, not only because it involves a basic element of pan- 
theism, but also because it ignores the only purpose of Christ's 
incarnation which Scripture mentions, namely, the salvation of lost 
and condemned mankind, Matt. 18, 11 ; 1 Tim. 1, 15; Gal. 4, 5, 
Augustine : Si homo non periisset, Filius Hominis non venisset. 



A. The Doctrine of the Person of Christ. 

(De Persona Christ!.) 


Holy Scripture expressly calls Christ true God and ascribes 
to Him all the divine attributes ; but it also calls Christ true man 
and ascribes to Him all the attributes common to men. Christ 
is therefore true God and true man, or the God-man (&edv&Qco7iog 

For this reason we must reject as unscriptural every doctrine 
which denies or limits a) the true deity of Christ (Monarchianism, 
TTnitarianism), b) His true humanity (Docetae, Gnostics, Ana- 
baptists), and c) the personal union of the two natures in the one 
Person (unio personalis) together with the resultant doctrines of 
the communion of the two natures ( communio naturarum ) and the 
communication of attributes (communicatio idiomatum). The 
controversies of the Lutherans in defense of the last two doctrines 
were directed not only against the Calvinists, but also against the 


That Christ is true God, coeternal and consubstantial with 
the Father, is incontrovertibly attested in Holy Scripture. The 
proofs for the doctrine may be grouped as follows. Scripture as- 
cribes to Christ — 

a) The name God (#£<5s, John 1,1) and Son of God (vlog zov 
deov, Matt. 16, 16), and these not in an improper sense, in which 
they are applied also to creatures (#eoi Xeyo/uevoi, dei nuncupativi, 
1 Cor. 8, 5; John 10,35), but in their proper, or metaphysical, 
sense, so that Christ is said to possess not only divine functions, 
but also the one divine essence. John 10, 30 : "I and the Father 
are one (£V)"; John 1, 14 : "The glory as of the Only-begotten of 
the Father" (<5of av cog fxovoyevovg Tiagd TzaxQog). Even the nomen 
Dei essentiale et incommunicabile Jehovah (nirp) is given to Christ, 
Ps. 97, 1. 7; cp. with Heb. 1, 6; 

b) The divine attributes: eternity, John 8,58; 17,5; 1,1; 
omniscience, John 21,17; omnipotence, John 10,28 — 30; 

c) The divine works: creation and preservation, Col. 1, 
16. 17; John 5, 17 — 19; the resurrection of the dead, John 5,21. 
28. 29; miracles performed by His own power, John 2, 11; 

d) Divine adoration and worship, John 20,28; 5,23; Phil. 
2, 9 ff. Thus in every way Scripture describes Christ as equal to 
God in divine majesty, glory, and honor, Phil. 2, 6. 



If modern Subordinationists object that Christ is called God 
only in the predicate, but never in the subject, we reply a) that 
this is not true (cp. Heb. 1, 8; John 20, 28) and b) that, if Christ 
is called God in the predicate, this asserts His deity even more 
emphatically than if He were called God in the subject, since it is 
the very function of the predicate to describe the subject according 
to its true essence, Rom. 9, 5. To this we may add that the term 
God, when used in its proper sense, is never a generic term, but 
always a proper noun, since it always designates the divine Essence 
which exists but as one (una numero essentia divina). 

Again, in reply to the objection that Christ is indeed essentially 
God, yet only in a secondary sense of the term (Subordinationists), 
we say that this anti-Scriptural view is based upon a tritheistic or 
polytheistic conception of God, as if the Holy Trinity consisted 
of one supreme God and two lesser deities. While it is true that 
Christ described the Father as greater than Himself, John 14, 28, 
according to His human nature, in the state of humiliation, Scrip- 
ture, on the other hand, ascribes to Him the entire divine essence 
with all its perfections, Col. 2, 3. 9, proving that He is God in the 
same sense as the Father. 

The charge that Christ in that case could not have suffered 
alone, since the numerically one essence would have drawn into His 
suffering also the Father (Patripassianism), can be answered thus: 
We accept the two doctrines (the unity of the divine essence and 
the exclusion of the Father from Christ's suffering and death) 
on the authority of Scripture as a part of the great mystery of 
Christ's miraculous incarnation (1 Tim. 3, 16: S^oXoyovfiivcog 
fxiya (xvorriQiov). 

Every denial of Christ's true and essential deity is based, not 
upon lack of adequate Scripture proof, but upon the rationalistic 
tendency of the carnal heart, to which the Gospel of Christ is both 
foolishness and a stumbling-block, 1 Cor. 1, 23 ; 2, 14. If Christ is 
not true God, but only a human prophet, Matt. 16, 13 ff., then the 
entire Gospel of Christ's vicarious redemption is annulled and the 
Pelagianistic doctrine of work-righteousness must stand; for in 
that case fallen man has no divine Savior, 1 Cor. 15, 3. 4. 17 f., and 
therefore is obliged to earn salvation by good works. Yet in this 
very error the proud, self-righteous mind of unregenerate man 
glories. (Cp. Luther, St. L., IX, 237ff. 376ff.; XVI, 1688 ff.; 
VII, 1263 ff.) 





The reason why a detailed proof of Christ's true humanity has 
become necessary is that errorists have denied Christ's true human 
nature either a) altogether (Docetae: Christ's body was a phan- 
tom) or b) in part, by denying His human soul (Arians: The 
Xoyog took the place of His human soul), or His human spirit 
(Apollinaris: The Xoyog took the place of the vovg), or His human 
will (Monothelitism), or His true human birth (Gnostics, Valen- 
tinus: The body of Christ was of celestial origin). Christ with- 
out a human nature could be the Savior of the world as little as 
a Christ without a divine nature. 1 John 1, 7 : "The blood of 
Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." 

Accordingly Scripture is as emphatic in predicating of Christ 
true humanity as it is in ascribing to Him true deity. It ascribes 
to Him a) human names, 1 Tim. 2, 5; John 8, 40; b) human 
flesh and blood consubstantial with man's, Heb. 2, 14; c) huiran 
descent, Rom. 9, 5 ; Matt. 1, 1 ff. ; Luke 3, 23 ff. ; Gen. 22, 18, 
cp. with Gal. 3, 16; d) a really human, though miraculous, con- 
ception in the womb of Mary, Luke 1, 42; e) the constituent parts 
of a human being, John 2,21; Luke 24,39; Matt. 26, 38; Luke 
23,46; 22,42; f) human emotions, Mark 3, 5 ; 14,34; g) human 
physical wants, Matt. 4, 2; John 19,28; Luke 8,23; h) human 
suffering and death, Matt. 27, 46; John 19,30. 

The Xdyog therefore did not bring down His body from heaven, 
but assumed human nature in the body of Mary, so that He was 
true man, Luke 1, 35. All who deny the true humanity of Christ 
do so not because the evidence of Scripture is inadequate, but 
because they allow themselves to be misled by rationalistic ("The 
finite is not capable of the infinite") or Pelagianistic considera- 
tions ("It was not necessary for the Son of God to become tL3 
Substitute and Redeemer of man"). 

Against Pelagianism in every form we hold on the basis of 
Scripture that the divine Redeemer had to be true man in order 
that He might perform the stupendous work of redemption, Is. 53, 
7 — 11, fulfil the divine Law in man's place, Gal. 4, 4. 5, and atone 
for his sin, Is. 53, 1 — 6. Hence the denial of Christ's true 
humanity is tantamount to the denial of His vicarious atonement, 
Heb. 2, 14; John 1,14. 

Christ according to His divine nature is S/xoovoios, consub- 
stantialis, with the Father; according to His human nature He is 



Sfioo^aiog, consubstantialis, with man, yet not secundum numerum, 
but secundum speciem. 

The expression Son of Man which our Savior usually employed 
when He spoke of Himself, does not describe Christ as the 'Ideal 
Man," but as the unique Descendant of man, Gen. 3, 15; 26,4; 
28, 14 ; 2 Sam. 7, 12, in whom the Son of God became incarnate, 
Is. 7, 14; 9, 6. That is Christ's own explanation of the name 
which He adopted as His usual designation, as this appears from 
Matt. 16, 13—17 (cp. v. 16: "the Christ, the Son of the living 
God"). Hence the "Son of Man" is the God-man, foretold in the 
Old Testament, Dan. 7, 13. 14, who came to destroy the works of 
the devil, 1 John 3, 8, and who therefore had to be true God, Matt. 
9, 2. 4. 6; 12, 8; 26, 63. 64; 25, 31ff., and at the same time true 
man, Matt. 8, 20 ; 11, 19 ; 17, 12. 22. 23 ; 20, 18. 19. 

Though Christ is true man, consubstantial with all other men, 
yet His human nature is marked by certain peculiarities (proprie- 
tates individuates) that are not found in other human beings. 
Among these peculiarities we note : — 

Christ's supernatural conception (extraordinaria conceptio). 
Christ was not the son of Joseph and Mary (against the Ebionites, 
Modernists), but was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb 
of Mary, the virgin, Matt. 1, 18; Luke 1, 35 (conceptio miracu- 
losa). The causa efficiens of the Son of Man was the Holy Ghost; 
the materia ex qua, His virgin mother, Matt. 1, 20. Cp. the Apos- 
tolic Creed: Conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria 
virgine. If the objection is raised that an inconceivable miracle 
such as this would violate the "immutable laws of nature," Scrip- 
ture itself supplies an adequate answer — Luke 1, 34 — 37. Christ's 
supernatural conception was a miracle of God's omnipotence and 
grace, which we should gratefully acknowledge, Luke 1, 38. 

Christ's perfect sinlessness (dvafiagnjala). While all other 
men are conceived and born in sin, Ps. 51, 5 ; John 3, 6 ; 5, 12 — 20, 
the Son of Man was without sin, Is. 53, 9 ; John 8, 46 ; Luke 1, 35 ; 
2 Cor. 5, 21 ; 1 Pet. 1, 19 ; 2, 22, and had to be without sin to 
be our Savior, Heb. 7, 26. 27; 1 Pet. 1, 19. Though Scripture 
ascribes sin to Christ, it expressly explains that this wis imputed 
sin, or our sin charged to Christ, peccatum imputatum, Is. 53, 6 ; 
2 Cor. 5, 21. 

However, Scripture not only establishes the fact and necessity 
of Christ's sinlessness, but also explains how it was that He was 
conceived and born sinless. The cause was not a) that a holy seed 



(massa sancia) was preserved and propagated in Israel until the 
Savior was born (scholastic theologians), or b) that by way of 
evolution Mary developed into a holy person (modern rationalistic 
theologians, Olshausen), or c) the immaculate conception of Mary 
(immaculata conceptio, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX, December 8, 
1854), but the astounding fact that Mary became the mother of 
Christ according to His human nature through the Holy Ghost, 
Matt. 1, 18 : Ix nvtvfxaxoq hyiov). 

In consequence of His supernatural conception Christ was free 
from both original sin (peccatum originale) and actual sin (pecca- 
tum actuale). This truth we derive from all passages that describe 
Christ's absolute sinlessness, Heb. 7, 26. 27 ; 1 John 3, 5, as well as 
from those which affirm that He became man not after the order 
of nature (Luther: non ex carne contaminata et horribiliter pol- 
luta)> but through the Holy Ghost, Matt. 1, 18; Luke 1, 35. Since 
Christ did not descend from sinful seed, He was free from heredi- 
tary corruption (corruptio hereditaria) and from hereditary guilt 
(culpa hereditaria; reatus peccati Adamitici), which is imputed 
to all men begotten of sinful flesh, John 3, 6 ; Rom. 5, 16. 19. 

Nevertheless, though Christ's human nature was free from sin, 
it was a true human nature, because sin does not belong to the 
•sssence of man (sin being an accidens). Hence Christ was indeed 
a true man, but one who, so far as His person was concerned, was 
not under the Law, but above the Law, Matt. 12, 8. 

Since Christ's human nature was received into the Aoyog, 
we must deny that there was in Him even the possibility of sin- 
ning, John 8, 46; 1 Pet. 1, 19; the holy Savior could not sin 
(Christus sacerdos impeccabUis). In spite of this fact we must 
not regard the temptation of Christ as mere sham, but as a real 
temptation and suffering, which He endured for our salvation, 
Matt. 4, Iff.; Heb. 2,18; 4,15. 

The consequences of Christ's sinlessness were — 

a) His immortality (fi&avaoia); for according to Scripture, 
death is the wages of sin, Gen. 2, 17 ; 3, 17 — 19 ; Rom. 5, 12 ; 6, 23. 
Christ died of His own will and power as the Savior of men (non 
aliqua necessitate, sed libera voluntate), John 10, 18; 1 Cor. 15, 3. 
The death of the Sinless One, who Himself was immortal, was the 
ransom (Matt. 20, 28; 1 Tim. 2, 6) by which He purchased life 
for sinful mankind (Xvtqov, &vxiXvxQov). Christus mortuus est 
propter peccatum imputatum. 



b) Greater natural gifts (singvlaris excellentia) , such as wis- 
dom, Luke 2, 52, because there were no disturbing and perverting 
effects of sin in His body. (Cp. Adam's natural gifts before the 
Fall, Gen. 2, 19. 20. 23.) 

Much has been said concerning Christ's external appearance; 
but from Ps. 45, 2 we must not infer extraordinary physical beauty 
nor from Is. 53, 2 extraordinary deformity, since the one passage 
describes Christ in His beauty as Savior (Erloeserschoenheit) and 
the other in His deep humiliation (Leidensgestalt). The evan- 
gelists indeed picture the grace of Christ's words, Luke 4, 22, but 
never any beauty of person. However, let us bear in mind that 
Christ in His whole state of humiliation suffered the consequences 
of our sins, so that He always appeared in the form of a servant 
(fAOQtpri dovXov) and in the likeness of men (iv S^oico^ari Av&qq)* 
new), Phil. 2, 7; Rom. 8, 3. His bodily appearance therefore was 
not like that of man before the Fall, but rather like that of fallen 
and sinful man (iv 6fwi(bfiaxi oagxdc djbiagiiac). Similitude* . . . 
propter assumptas infirmitates peccatrix visa est. 

With respect to the human infirmities which Jesus suffered, 
Scripture shows that He indeed endured the common, or general, 
infirmities of men (infirmitates communes), such as hunger, thirst, 
weariness, sorrow, etc., but not the personal infirmities (infirmi- 
tates personales) , such as personal illness, blindness, or any other 
personal defect; for of these not one instance is recorded. 

c) The impersonality of Chris fs human nature (iwnocxaata, 
iwnootaoia). Among the peculiarities of Christ's human nature 
we note also its want of personality, that is to say, Christ's human 
nature did not form a distinct person (carentia propriae subsis- 
tence). Christ did not consist of two persons, one divine and 
the other human, but in Him the divine and the human nature 
were united into one undivided and indivisible person, 1 Tim. 2, 5. 
Humana Christi natura non habet propriam subsist entiam, per- 
sonalitatem, vndoxaotv. 

This fact follows from the peculiar mode of the incarnation 
(modus incarnationis). For when the Son of God became in- 
carnate, He did not assume a human person, but only human 
nature; in other words, the human nature was received into the 
person of the koyog, Gal. 4, 4. 5; John 1, 14; Heb. 2, 14. Accord- 
ingly we predicate of Christ's human nature negatively Awnooxaala, 
or the Scriptural truth that it possesses no personality of its own ; 
positively we predicate of Christ's human nature kwnooraoia, 



or the Scriptural truth that the human nature of Christ subsists 
in the X6yog (subsistentia hwnanae naturae in divina natura 
tov X6yov). 

If the objection is raised against this doctrine that the term 
Son of Man is just as much a designation of a person as is the 
term Son of God and that therefore the human nature of Christ 
must be regarded as a distinct person, we reply that this conclusion 
does not hold, since these terms do not designate two different 
persons, but only one and the same person, who at the same time 
is both God and man, Matt. 16, 13 — 17. In the person of Christ 
there are &XXo xai SXlo, but not &XXog xal SlXog. Of all other 
men the axiom holds: Quot humanae naturae, tot personae 
humanae; but this axiom is not applicable to Christ, because the 
Logos assumed human nature into His divine person, Col. 2, 9. 

Modern rationalistic theology, which has surrendered the 
Scriptural doctrine of the impersonality of Christ's human nature, 
must consequently surrender also the doctrine of the incarnation, 
since this consisted essentially in the act that the Son of God re- 
ceived into His divine person human nature, so that from the 
very moment when His human nature was created (productio) it 
was also united (unitio) with the Xdyog, Luke 1, 43. "Afia odg£, 
&fia X6yov od@f . 

As modern rationalistic theology denies the incarnation, so it 
affirms that the two natures in Christ gradually grew into each 
other, or coalesced, and that in this way the union ( unitio ) of the 
two natures was effected. However, Scripture does not teach a uni- 
tion of the two natures in Christ by coalescence, but a unition by 
incarnation, John 1, 14. If modern theology objects to this doc- 
trine on the ground that the unition of the Son of God with an 
embryo cannot be regarded as worthy of God, we answer that this 
"unworthy conception of God" is clearly stated in Scripture, 
Luke 1, 35. Again, if it objects that an intimate union such as the 
incarnation presupposes is unthinkable, we reply that Scripture 
itself describes the incarnation as a "mystery of godliness," which 
is "without controversy great," 1 Tim. 3, 16. 

In order to emphasize the truth that the Son of God indeed 
assumed human nature, but not a human person, our dogmaticians 
say: Dens assumpsit naturam humanam, or humanitatem; but 
not: Deus assumpsit hominem. In view of the fact that modern 
rationalistic theology has changed the doctrine of the two natures 
. (Zweinaturenlehre) into a doctrine of two persons, this distinction 



is very important. — The more extreme type of modern theology 
regards Christ as a mere man, in whom God revealed Himself in 
a higher degree than in an ordinary man (Ritschl; Modernism) ; 
in other words, the difference between Christ and all other men is 
only one of degree, not of kind. 


(De Unione Personal!.) 

God is at all times essentially and actively present in all crea- 
tures, Jer. 23, 23. 24; Eph. 4, 10; and to this union with the 
Triune God all created things owe their subsistence, Acts 17,28; 
Col. 1, 16 — 18. This union has been fitly called the general union 
(unio generalis) because it embraces all existing things, animate 
and inanimate, rational and irrational, in the entire realm of 
nature. In addition to this union, Scripture teaches also a special 
union (unio specialis, unio spiritualis), namely, the most gracious 
union of the Triune God with the believers (unio mystica), by 
which the communion of saints is the living, spiritual temple of 
God, John 14, 23; 1 Cor. 3, 16f.; 6, 17—19; Eph. 1, 22. 23. In the 
third place, Holy Scripture teaches a sacramental union (unio 
sacramentdlis), by which the true body and blood of Christ are 
really and substantially present in the Lord's Supper and are dis- 
tributed and received in, with, and under the bread and wine. 

From these unions we distinguish the personal union (unio 
personalis), by which the divine and the human nature of Christ 
are most intimately united in the one person of the God-man 
(hypostatic union, unio hypostatica). Hollaz defines the personal 
union thus: "The personal union is the conjunction of the two 
natures, divine and human, subsisting in the one hypostasis 
(yndoTaois, persona) of the Son of God, producing a mutual and 
indissoluble communion of both natures." (Doctr. TheoL, p. 296.) 
This personal union was effected when in His incarnation the Xoyog 
so assumed human nature into His divine person (actus unitionis) 
that in the incarnate Christ (Xoyog evoagxog) God and man are 
forever one undivided and indivisible person {status unionis, 
evmoig vnooxaxixrj). This is "the mystery of godliness," of which 
St. Paul testifies that it is "confessedly great," ojuoXoyovfiivwg 
/Lteya, 1 Tim. 3, 16, or the miracle of all ages. 

The personal union is proved incontrovertibly by the personal 
propositions (propositiones personales) , that is, by clear Scripture- 
passages in which with reference to the incarnate Christ it is said 



that God is man and man is God. Matt. 16, 13 — 17: The Son of 
Man is the Son of the living God; Luke 1,31.32: The Son of 
Mary is the Son of the Highest; Jer. 23, 5. 6: The Branch of 
David is the Lord, njn\ our Righteousness ; Horn. 9, 5 : The Christ 
who comes of the fathers is God, blessed forever; John 1, 14: The 
Word was made flesh ; Eom. 1, 3. 4 : He who was made of the seed 
of David is God's Son, our Lord ; etc. These personal propositions 
can be explained only on the ground that the divine and the human 
nature are so intimately and permanently united in the person of 
Christ that He is at the same time true God and true man. 

The personal, or hypostatic, union of the two natures in Christ 
is unique; that is to say, in the entire realms of both nature and 
grace there is no other union of God and man like that which 
exists in Christ. It may be somewhat illustrated (the union of 
soul and body in man; iron glowing with fire) ; but these unions 
are only similar to, not like, the personal union. Thus, while we 
can say that in Christ, God is man and man is God, we cannot 
say that in man the soul is body or that in iron glowing with fire 
the iron is fire. 

For this reason the personal propositions have been called 
unusual or singular (propositiones inusitatae), or propositions for 
which there is no analog. Yet, while the personal propositions are 
inusitatae (unique), they are real and not merely verbal ( ver- 
ities ); proper (propriae), not metaphorical, figurative, or trop- 
ical (impropriae et tropicae). That is to say, in Christ the two 
natures are truly united, just as the personal propositions affirm, 
so that Christ is God-man (&e&v&q(D7io<;) in the fullest sense of 
the term (persona ovvdeiog, persona composita). 

While on the basis of Scripture the Christian Church teaches 
the personal union of the two natures in Christ, it emphatically 
rejects a) the error of Eutyches (monophysitism), who taught that 
the union was effected by a mingling of the two natures into each 
other or by confusion or a conversion of the one nature into the 
other (unio per mixtionem et conversionem), so that by such 
mingling, or conversion, a third object (tertium quiddam) came 
into being; b) the error of Nestorius, who, though affirming 
a connection (ovvd<peia) of the two natures, nevertheless regarded 
them as separate (Formtda of Concord: "two boards glued to- 
gether"), thus denying the personal union and in particular the 
communion of the natures and the communication of attributes 
(Mary is not tfeoidxoc). 



Against these two errors the Council of Chalcedon (451) 
declared: "We confess one and the same Jesus Christ, the Son 
and Lord only-begotten, in two natures (lv dvo <pvoeoiv) without 
mixture (dovy^vrcoc), without change (dxp&rTcoc), [against Euty- 
ches], without division (Adiaighcog), without separation (d^a>p/- 
GTo>c), [against Nestorius] " The error of Nestorius was later 
championed by Zwingli (AXXoiwoig), who taught : Wherever Scrip- 
ture says that Christ has suffered, you must read: The human 
nature only has suffered. 

In refutation of the Eutychian as well as the Zwinglian 
(Nestorian) error our dogmaticians say: "The two natures in 
Christ are united a) inconvertibly (the divine nature was not 
changed into flesh; against Eutyches), b) unconfusedly (the two 
natures were not mingled into a third object; against Eutyches), 
c) inseparably and uninterruptedly (against Nestorius) ; that is to 
say, the two natures in Christ are never separated by any intervals 
either of time or place. The union was neither dissolved in death 
(time), nor is the Xoyog after the incarnation anywhere present 
outside the flesh (place). After the incarnation the Son of God is 
always and everywhere FMus Dei incarnatus. Neque caro extra 
Xoyov, neque Xoyog extra carnem. John 1, 14; Col. 2, 9; Kom. 
5, 10 ; etc. 

In opposition to all errorists, ancient and modern, the Chris- 
tian Church confesses that the personal union is — 

a. Not unio nominalis, a nominal union, as though the Son 
of Man were God only in name (Deus nuncupativus). Christ is 
true and very God, John 10, 30, so that the personal union is real 
(unio realis). While all Unitarians are willing to call Christ God 
(Eitschl: "For us Christ has the value of God; hence, while the 
ascription of deity to Christ is not a real judgment [Seinsurteil~], 
it is a value judgment [Werturteil]" ; Harnack: "Christ may be 
called the Son of God because He proclaimed to men the father- 
hood of God"), they strenuously deny that He is God de facto. 

b. Not unio naturalis, a natural union, like that of soul and 
body, which have been created for each other. The personal union 
is not a natural union, since it intimately and inseparably unites 
the Creator and the creature, God and man, into one person (ens 
increatum et creatum). 

This union is therefore incomprehensible to human reason, 
1 Tim. 3, 16. To render it somewhat intelligible to the human 
mind, some scholastic theologians said that the Son of God was 



joined to human nature through the means of the soul (mediants 
anima), since only in this way two immaterial beings (God and 
soul are both spirits) can be joined. The soul, however, is just 
as much a creature as the body, so that the great problem how God 
could be united with a creature into one person is hereby not solved. 
But this view is also unscriptural ; for while Christ in death gave 
up His spirit, Matt. 27, 50 ; Mark 15, 37 ; John 19, 30, so that the 
natural union (unto naturalis) of soul and body ceased, the per- 
sonal union did not cease (Rom. 5, 10: Christ's death was the 
death of the Son of God). For this reason the personal union can- 
not be a natural union, or a union mediante anima. 

c. Not unio accidentalis, an accidental union, as when two 
boards are glued together or a human body is clothed in a garment. 
An accidental union does not join two things into one in such 
a manner as the personal union unites the two natures into one 
person. Of two things accidentally joined together one may be 
injured and the other not (the garment may be torn, while the body 
remains unharmed), whereas the human nature in Christ was so 
joined to the divine that, when the human nature suffered, shed 
blood, and died, the Son of God suffered, shed His blood, and died, 
1 John 1,1.7; 1 Cor. 2,8; Acts 20,28. 

d. Not unio sustentativa (nuda nagovaia sive TiaQdoxaoig), 
or a sustaining union by mere divine presence, by which God is 
present in, and sustains, all creatures, Col. 1, 17 ; Acts 17, 28. It is 
true, the divine nature sustained the human in Christ's great suf- 
fering, Matt. 26, 42 ; yet the essence of the personal union does not 
consist in that sustaining act, but rather in the most intimate con- 
junction of the two natures in the one person of Christ. Creatures 
are never assumed into the Godhead in spite of the sustaining 
presence of God ; but through the personal union the human nature 
of Christ was received into the person of the Son of God. 

e. Not unio habitualis (relativa, o%Etixr]) t a relative union, 
which indeed places two things into a certain relation with each 
other, but still leaves them separate essentially. Thus two friends 
are joined together by the union of mutual love; yet they remain 
two distinct individuals, separated even by space. But the personal 
union of the two natures in Christ was not relative (Theodore 
of Mopsuestia, \ ca. 428), since the fulness of the Godhead dwells 
in Christ bodily, Col. 2, 9. The two natures in Christ are tn- 
separably joined and by their most intimate and permanent union 



constitute the one indivisible Christ. While the union effected 
through friendship may cease, the personal union never ceases. 

f. Not unio essenticUis sive commixtiva, an essential or com- 
mingling union, by which through the personal union the two 
natures coalesced into one nature or essence (Eutychianism). 

Since the charge was raised against the Lutherans that they, 
too, mixed the two natures into each other ( conversio aut confusio 
aut exaequatio), the Formula of Concord expressly refuted this 
erroneous accusation, saying (Thor. Decl., VIII, 62 f.) : "In no 
way is conversion, confusion, or equalization of the natures in 
Christ or of their essential properties to be maintained or admitted. 
Accordingly we have never understood the words realis communi- 
cation or communicated recditer, that is, the impartation or com- 
munion which occurs in deed and truth, of any physica communi- 
catio vel essentialis transfusio, physical communication or essential 
transfusion, that is, of an essential, natural communion or effusion, 
by which the natures would be commingled in their essence, and 
their essential properties; . . . but we have only opposed them to 
verbalis communicatio (verbal communication)/' 

g. Not unio per adoptionem, a union by adoption (Adop- 
tionism ; Felix of Urgel, Elipandus of Toledo, in the 8th century ; 
condemned by various synods 792 — 799, mainly at the instigation 
of Alcuin, f 804), by which Christ according to His human nature 
has been said to be God's adopted Son (Filius Dei adoptivus). 
Adoptionism is a form of Nestorianism and presupposes two per- 
sons in Christ, one divine and the other human, of whom the latter 
was divinely adopted. In opposition to this error our Lutheran 
dogmaticians teach that Christ according to His human nature is 
the "bom Son of God," or the Son of God by His very birth (Filius 
Dei natus vel ab ipsa nativitate). The incarnation was not an 
adoption of a human person by God, but the assumption of human 
nature into the person of the Xoyog. 

Eutychianism and Nestorianism (Zwinglianism) are attempts 
to render the mystery of the incarnation intelligible to human 
reason, either by mingling or by separating the two natures. But 
both errors, which equally annul the personal union, in the final 
analysis deny the vicarious atonement of Christ ( satis f actio 
vicaria), since the redemption of lost and sinful mankind could be 
effected only by the God-man. Eutychianism and Nestorianism 
both lead to Unitarianism (Modernism), or to the error that Christ 
was a mere man. 



The same may be said of the error of kenoticism, or the doc- 
trine that the Son of God in His incarnation emptied Himself 
(ixevcoaev, Phil. 2, 7) of His divine attributes of omnipotence, 
omnipresence, and omniscience (Thomasius, Delitzsch, Kahnis, 
Luthardt, etc.) or of His divine consciousness and personality 
(Gess, Hofmann, Frank). Through this "self -limitation" of the 
Son of God the mystery of the incarnation is indeed explained, 
but at the tremendous cost of denying Christ's true deity. For if 
God has laid aside His divine attributes, He has laid aside His 
divine essence and has thus become a mutable being, who cannot 
be true God. 

As we reject kenoticism, so we must reject also the error of 
autohypostasism (avxovnooxaxog), according to which the Son of 
Man constituted a separate person (Idtoavaxaxog), who either grad- 
ually coalesced with the divine person of the Xoyog (Dorner) or 
remained separate altogether (Seeberg, Kirn, etc.). If that were 
true, Christ would be a mere man, in whom God merely worked in 
an extraordinary measure. If autohypostasism is adopted, the 
personal union, or the doctrine of Christ's two natures, is sur- 
rendered, and extreme Modernism, with its absolute denial of 
Christ's deity, is the only alternative. 

The mystery of the incarnation can never be explained by 
reason ; it must either be believed in toto or rejected in toto. At 
this point, as before all mysteries of divine revelation, the theo- 
logian stands at the crossroads, and he must choose either the way 
of Christian faith or that of pagan unbelief. 


(De Communione Natur arum. ) 

A special discussion of the communion of natures ( communio 
naturamm) has become necessary because both the Reformed and 
the papists indeed admit a union of the human nature of Christ 
with the person (vjiooxaoig) of the X6yog, but deny the real and 
direct communion of the natures with each other. While they 
concede the unio personalis, they reject the communio naturarum. 
Their opposition to the latter doctrine, which Scripture teaches 
with great clearness, is based upon the rationalistic axiom: "The 
finite is not capable of the infinite." Finitum non est capax 
infiniti. The Reformed theologian Danaeus writes: "Nothing 
whatever that is proper and essential to the Deity can in any way 
be communicated to a created thing, such as is the human nature 



assumed by Christ." (Pieper, Christl. Dogmatik, II, 135 ff.) 
Insistence on this principle by Calvinistic theologians is so 
emphatic that they charge the Lutherans, who on the basis of 
Scripture affirm the communio naturarum, with Eutychianism, or 
the mingling of the two natures. 

However, in denying the communio naturarum, the Reformed 
and the papists contradict and deny their own doctrine regarding 
the personal union. If the finite is incapable of the infinite, then 
indeed the union of human nature with the person of the Xoyog 
(personal union) is impossible, since the person of the Son of God 
is as infinite as is His divine nature. In other words, then there 
can be no personal union. Then, too, the entire incarnation of 
the Son of God must be denied as impossible, since this consists 
essentially in the union of God with man. Hence consistency on 
the part of the Reformed and papists would demand the rejection 
of the entire mystery of godliness that "God was manifest in the 
flesh," 1 Tim. 3, 16. The doctrine of the communion of natures 
follows directly from that of the personal union, so that they either 
stand or fall together. 

But the Reformed and papistical error is directed also against 
Holy Scripture. The communion of the two natures of Christ is 
proved a) from general passages, such as John 1, 14; Heb. 2, 
14. 15, etc., which clearly show that the Son of God so joined 
Himself to the flesh (adpf) that His divine nature has true com- 
munion with the human nature; b) from special passages, such as 
Col. 2, 3. 9: "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead 
bodily" (ocojuauxajg). From these passages we learn in particular : 

a) That the divine nature entered into a true and real union 
with the human nature, since the fulness of the Godhead dwells 
in Christ bodily. On the basis of this and other passages, Hollaz 
writes : "The communion of natures in the person of Christ is the 
mutual participation of the divine and human natures of Christ, 
through which the divine nature of the Xoyog, having become par- 
ticipant of the human nature, pervades, perfects, inhabits, and 
appropriates this to itself; but the human nature, having become 
participant of the divine nature, is pervaded, perfected, and in- 
habited by it" (Doctr. Theol, p. 316 ff.) ; 

b) That in Christ there is not mere contiguity (ovvacpEta) 
of the two natures, but a most profound and intimate interpene- 
tration (negixcbgriois), since the divine nature permeates the human 
nature, just as the soul permeates the body; 



c) That in spite of this most intimate interpenetration there 
is no mingling, mixture, or change of the two natures, because the 
fulness of the Godhead dwells in the human nature. As the per- 
sons of the Trinity permeate each other without mixture, or as 
the soul dwells in the body without mingling, so the Xoyog pervades 
the flesh in such a manner that neither of the natures is mingled 
or mixed with the other (xinio aovyxyiog, a/buxrog, arQejirog); 

d) That the divine nature must not be conceived as extending 
beyond the human, since the fulness of the Godhead dwells in the 
body. In other words, just as the soul is in the living body, but 
never beyond it, so the Xoyog is in the flesh so as never to be beyond 
or outside it (neque caro extra Xoyov, neque Xoyog extra camera) ; 

e) That the communion of the two natures in Christ is in- 
separable (a%a)QioTo<;) t since they are united permanently (ddia- 
oidxcos), or so that they are always mutually present to each other. 
The doctrine of the communion of natures as taught by the Lu- 
theran theologians is therefore truly Scriptural. 

Quenstedt presents the doctrine as follows : "The communion 
of natures is that most intimate participation (xotvcovta) and com- 
bination (ovvdvao(s) of the divine nature of the Xoyog and the 
assumed human nature by which the Xoyog, through a most intimate 
and profound interpenetration (7iF.Qix(ogt]oig) t so permeates, in- 
habits, and appropriates to Himself the human nature personally 
united with Him that from both, mutually intercommunicating, 
there arises the one incommunicable subject, namely, one person." 
(Doctr. Theol., p. 310.) The opposing Zwinglian doctrine (Nes- 
torianism) Quenstedt describes as follows: "[We condemn] the 
antithesis of the Calvinists, some of whom teach that it is only 
the person of the ioyog and not at the same time His divine nature 
that has been united with human nature. . . . Thus they invent 
a double union, mediate and immediate, saying that the natures 
are united, not immediately, but through the medium of the person 
of the X6yos." (Doctr. Theol., p. 316.) 

The Reformed theologians object to the communion of natures 
on the ground that in that case the human nature of Christ must 
be conceived of as being "very large/ 5 since otherwise it could not 
be everywhere present with the divine nature (local extension) ; 
indeed, that in that case it could not be regarded as a true human 
nature at all, since properties are ascribed to it of which human 
nature is incapable. In answer to this we say that the human 
nature of Christ was not physically enlarged through the incarna- 



tion, but is omnipresent with the divine nature, Matt. 28, 20, not 
by local extension, but by an illocal mode of presence, John 20, 
19 — 26; Luke 24,31, which it possesses besides its ordinary local 
mode, John 4, 3. 4, by virtue of the personal union. 

If the Reformed theologians furthermore ask how this is pos- 
sible without the destruction of the human nature, we answer 
that Holy Scripture teaches this to be a fact (John 1, 14; Matt. 
28, 18—20), though a great mystery (1 Tim. 3, 16), and that 
therefore this doctrine must not be denied, but believed. Again, 
if they affirm that the human nature of Christ received extraor- 
dinary finite gifts (dona finita extraordinaria) , but not truly 
divine gifts (dona divina), we remind them of the Scripture- 
passages which directly ascribe divine gifts to the human nature, 
1 John 1, 7 ; Matt. 9, 6 ; John 5, 27 ; Matt. 28, 18. 20. While the 
human nature performs actus naturales (eating, drinking, suf- 
fering, dying, etc.) which are common to all men, it performs also 
actus personates (forgiving sins, executing judgment, etc.) which 
are the direct result of its intimate communion with the divine 

As the personal union, so also the communion of natures is 
proved by such personal propositions as "God is man" and "Man 
is God"; for these propositions predicate a real communion of 
the natures in Christ. To the objection of the Zwinglians (Nes- 
torians) that the personal propositions, so far as the communion 
of natures is concerned (quoad communionem naturarum), are 
only nominal (propositiones verbales, propositiones tropicae), we 
reply that in that case also the incarnation, the personal union, 
and the entire doctrine of Scripture concerning the person of Christ 
must be regarded as nominal or figurative; for what is true of 
a part of a mystery is true of the whole of it. Indeed, if we must 
regard as nominal or tropical in Scripture everything to which 
man's blind reason opposes itself, then, in the last analysis, every 
article of faith must be denied. 

Against Eutychianism and Nestorianism the Formula of Con- 
cord (Art. VIII, 13ff.) declares: "The two natures were united 
not as two boards are glued together, so that they realiter, i. e., in 
deed and truth, have no communion whatever with one another" 
(against Nestorius and Samosatenus), nor by "a mixing or equal- 
izing of the natures, as when hydromel is made from honey and 
water, which is no longer pure honey and water, but a mixed drink" 
(against Eutyches), but as "the soul and body, and fire and iron, 



which have communion with each other, not by a phrase or mode 
of speaking or in mere words, but truly and really." 

Against the errors of the Calvinists (Nestorians), papists, and 
Eutychians our dogmaticians have in summary described the per- 
meation of the two natures (jzeQixa')Qr]ois) as follows: It is a) in- 
tima et perfectissima, intimate and most perfect; b) mutua, the 
divine nature permeating the human and the assumed flesh being 
completely permeated by the divine nature; c) inseparabilis 
(dxcoQiorog); d) without confusion, mingling, or changing (<lovy- 
Xviog, auixxog, axQETnos), yet so that the two natures of Christ 
are united continuously (ddidoraroiy sive sibi mutuo praesentes) 
and are never outside each other (nuspiam ultra, nuspiam extra). 


(De Communicatione Idiomatum. ) 

Since the personal union cannot be perfect and permeant 
(perichoristic) without the participation of properties, the com- 
munication of attributes (communicatio idiomatum) of the two 
natures in Christ is the necessary result of the personal union. 
When the Son of God assumed into His person true human nature, 
He assumed also the properties which belong to human nature (to 
be a creature, to be born, to suffer, die, ascend and descend, move 
about, etc.). All who deny the communication of attributes must 
deny also the personal union, or the paramount mystery that the 
Word was made flesh. 

Hollaz describes the communication of attributes (communi- 
catio idiomatum) thus: "The communication of attributes is the 
true and real participation of the properties of the divine and 
human natures resulting from the personal union in Christ, the 
God-man, who is denominated from either or both natures." 
(Doctr. Theol, p. 321.) 

By the term properties (idicDfiara, propria) , which is here used 
in its wider sense, we understand not only the natural properties 
themselves, but also what they do and what they suffer (ivegyrifiaxa 
xai djioxeleo/uaxa, actiones et passiones), by which the properties 
exert themselves (to create — to be created; to give life — to 
lose life). 

While the idiomata of the two natures are attributed to the 
concrete of both natures (Christ — the God-man) or to the con- 
crete of either of the two natures (God — the Son of Man), it does 
not follow from this that the properties of the one nature become 



those of the other (God is not mortal; man is not eternal) ; for 
by the personal union the two natures are not changed in substance, 
but each retains the idiomata essential or the idiomata natural to 
itself. {Doctr. Theol., p. 313.) Therefore it is only to the person 
that without further distinction the idiomata of the one or the 
other nature can be ascribed. This truth will be considered more 
fully later on. 

When we speak of the "concrete of the divine nature" we mean 
such terms as God, Son of God, the Aoyog, etc. ; when we speak of 
the "concrete of the human nature," we mean such terms as Man, 
Son of Man, Son of Mary, etc. ; when we speak of the "concrete 
of the person," or of both natures, we mean such terms as Christ, 
Messiah, Immanuel, etc., which properly signify the person con- 
sisting of both natures. 

Although every truth that will be set forth under the head of 
"Communication of Attributes" is already embraced in the doctrine 
of the personal union, we nevertheless treat the teachings of Scrip- 
ture on this score under three distinct heads in order that the 
doctrine of the communication of attributes may be perceived the 
more readily and the antithesis of errorists may be refuted the 
more efficiently. Accordingly we speak of Three Genera of the 
Communication of Attributes. 


The first genus of the communication of attributes Hollaz 
describes as follows : "The first genus of communicatio idiomatum 
consists in this, that such properties as are peculiar to the divine 
or the human nature are truly and really ascribed to the entire 
person of Christ, designated by either nature or by both natures." 
(Doctr. Theol, p. 314.) 1 Cor. 2, 8 : "They crucified the Lord of 
Glory"; Acts 3, 15 : "And [ye] killed the Prince of Life"; Heb. 
13, 8: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and to-day and forever"; 
John 8, 58: "Before Abraham was, I am," etc. In all these and 
similar passages peculiarities of either nature are ascribed to the 
whole person. 

The first genus of the communication of attributes receives 
its importance from the fact that errorists at all times misinter- 
preted the Scripture-passages which ascribe human or divine pecu- 
liarities to the entire person of Christ. Thus it has been denied 
that the human idiomata "to be born," "to suffer," "to die," may 
be properly predicated of the Son of God. Nestorius objected to 




the teaching of the Christian Church by which Mary was called 
deoToxog, or "Mother of God." Zwingli resorted to a figure of 
speech (dklouooig) to exclude the Son of God from the suffering 
and death of Christ. According to Zwingli "Christ suffered" means 
"The human nature suffered"; "My flesh is meat indeed" means 
"My divine nature is meat indeed." In short, both Nestorius and 
Zwingli denied that "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth 
us from all sin," 1 John 1, 7, in other words, that the suffering and 
death of Christ were the suffering and death of God. 

Nevertheless Scripture affirms this very fact. God's Son was 
made of a woman (Gal. 4, 4) and suffered and died (1 Cor. 2, 8) ; 
and it is this very fact that God suffered and died for us which 
gives to the blood of Christ the power to cleanse from sin, 
1 John 1, 7. Holy Scripture thus ascribes to the entire person of 
Christ two kinds of properties, one divine and the other human, 
though in such cases it designates the nature according to which 
the property in question is ascribed to the whole person. Rom. 1, 3 : 
"His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, was made of the seed of David 
according to the flesh." Sometimes the properties are predicated 
of the concrete of the divine nature (Son of God, Lord of Glory, 
Prince of Life), sometimes of the concrete of the human nature 
(Son of David, Son of Man), and sometimes of the concrete of 
both natures (Christ, Immanuel, our Lord Jesus Christ), but the 
attributes are always regarded as belonging to the entire Christ. 

In this manner Scripture ascribes to Christ eternity (John 
8, 58) and time (Luke 3, 23) ; the eternal generation from the 
Father (John 1, 14. 18; Eom. 8, 32) and the birth, in time, of 
Mary (Gal. 4, 4; Luke 1,35; 2,7); omniscience (John 21,17; 
2, 24. 25) and limited knowledge (Luke 2, 52; Mark 13, 32); 
omnipotence (Matt. 28, 18; Mark 4, 39) and limited power (John 
18, 12); life, essential and absolute (1 John 1, 2; John 10, 18; 
5, 26), and death and resurrection (Matt. 16, 21 ; 1 Cor. 2, 8 ; Acts 
3, 15). Both kinds of attributes, the divine and the human, belong 
to Christ equally, really, and truly, because both natures, the divine 
and human, really and truly belong to Him. However, the divine 
attributes belong to Christ according to His divine nature, while 
the human attributes belong to Him according to His human 
nature, as Scripture clearly indicates by the diacritical particles 
(particulae diacriticae), as in Rom. 1, 3; 9, 5. 

When describing Christ's work of redemption, it is preferable 
to employ the concrete expressions : "The Son of God suffered and 



died" instead of the abstract : "Divinity suffered and died," because 
these may be taken in the sense of Theopaschitism (Theopassi- 
anism). Yet, rightly understood, these terms may be justified. 
Luther and the dogmaticians of the 16th century employed them 
frequently in the sense of "Divinity in the flesh." (Cp. Col. 2, 9: 
"the fulness of the Godhead.") — In passing, we may add that our 
dogmaticians never asserted that Ood in His nature can suffer 
and die. What they taught is that Christ, the incarnate Son of 
God, who is true God and true man, suffered and died according 
to His human nature. 


The second genus of communication of attributes is that by 
which the Son of God, because of the personal union, truly and 
really communicates the properties of His own divine nature to 
His assumed human nature for common possession, use, and desig- 
nation (Hollaz). As the genus idiomaticum, so also the genus 
maiestaticum follows of necessity from the personal union ; for since 
the human nature has been assumed into the person of the Xoyoq, 
it partakes of the entire glory and majesty of the divine nature 
and therefore also of its divine attributes, John 1, 14; 5, 27; 6, 51. 
If the incarnation is at all real, then also the communication of 
divine attributes to the human nature must be real, since by the 
personal union not only the person, but also the divine nature, 
which cannot be separated from the person, has entered into com- 
munion with the human nature. 

Yet this important truth, which Scripture so clearly attests, 
has been emphatically denied. In particular it has been claimed 
that the human nature cannot receive divine omnipotence, omnis- 
cience, and omnipresence, since the finite is incapable of these 
infinite properties (Reformed, papists). In fact, as the errorists 
claim, the human nature would be destroyed if the divine idiomata 
would be forced upon it. Hence by the personal union the human 
nature of Christ received, not omnipotence, but only very great 
power ; not omniscience, but only very great knowledge ; not omni- 
presence, but only an exalted local presence at the right hand 
of God. In short, according to the Reformed doctrine the human 
nature of Christ received not divine gifts, but only extraordinary 
finite gifts, of which human nature in general is capable. But this 
denial of the communication of the divine attributes to the human 
nature is a denial also of the personal union; for if the human 
nature of Christ could not participate in the divine attributes, it 



could not be received into the person of the Xoyog, so that no incar- 
nation could take place. Practically therefore the Reformed and 
the papists, by rejecting the doctrine of the communication of 
attributes, repudiate the doctrine of the incarnation (personal 
union), though in theory they maintain it. 

In opposition to the Reformed and papistic error, Scripture 
affirms that Christ according to His human nature did in time 
receive divine omnipotence (Matt. 28, 18: "All power is given 
to Me"; John 5,27: "authority to execute Judgment"; 6,51: 
power to quicken; cp. also Matt. 16, 27; Acts 17, 31), divine 
omniscience (Col. 1, 19; 2, 3. 9), divine omnipresence (Matt. 
18,20; 28,20; John 3, 13; Eph. 1, 23; 4, 10), divine majesty 
(Matt. 11, 27; Luke 1, 33; John 6, 62; Phil. 2, 6; Heb. 2, 7), 
divine glory (Matt. 26, 64; Mark 14, 62; Rom. 8, 34; Eph. 1, 20; 
4, 10; Heb. 8, 1). In addition to these passages the genus maiestch 
ticum is clearly taught in John 1, 14, where it is expressly stated 
that the glory which was given to the human nature was beheld 
even in Christ's state of humiliation, and in Col. 2, 9, where the 
fulness of the Godhead is said to dwell bodily in Christ, so that 
indeed the entire divine essence was communicated to the body, 
or human nature, of Christ. 

In accordance with Scripture we therefore maintain that the 
human nature of Christ through the personal union came into 
possession of all the divine attributes of the Xoyog, not indeed essen- 
tially (formaUter), but by communication (per communicationem) ; 
and just that is what we mean to affirm by the second genus of the 
communication of attributes. 

For further explanation of the genus maiestaticum we add the 
following : — 

a. We must distinguish between the possession (xrijoig) and 
the use (xQV ai s) °f the divine attributes communicated to the 
human nature. So far as the possession is concerned, the divine 
properties were communicated to the human nature at one and the 
same time, namely, at the very moment or act of unition (con- 
ception), so that even the infant Jesus was in possession of the 
entire divine majesty and glory, John 1, 14; Luke 1, 35. Yet 
Christ refrained from the full use of His imparted majesty during 
the state of humiliation, though rays of divine omnipotence, om- 
niscience, etc., frequently manifested themselves, John 12, 28; 
Matt. 3, 17 ; John 14, 11 ; 11, 43f. ; Matt. 17, 2ff. The full and 
constant exercise of the communicated majesty did not begin until 



His exaltation to the right hand of God, Eph. 1, 23; 4, 10; 
Phil. 2, 9ff. 

b. Reciprocation, which indeed has a place in the first genus, 
does not occur in the genus maiestaticum ; for there cannot be 
a humiliation, emptying, or lessening of the divine nature 
(xajzetvcoois, xevcootg, iXdxxwaig), as there is an advancement, or 
exaltation (JSefatcooiSy vjiegvipwois), of the human nature. The 
divine nature is unchangeable and therefore cannot be perfected 
or diminished, exalted or humiliated. The promotion therefore 
belongs to the nature that is assumed, not to that which assumes. 

Our Lutheran Confessions therefore reject the so-called fourth 
genus {genus rajieivcoTixov), by which Christ according to His 
divine nature had laid aside and abandoned in His state of 
humiliation "all power in heaven and earth." (Cf. Formula of 
Concord, Epit., VIII, 39.) Our Confessions rightly point out that 
by this "blasphemous perversion" "the way is prepared for the 
accursed Arian heresy, so that finally the eternal deity of Christ 
is denied and thus Christ and with Him our salvation are entirely 
lost." (Cf. the error of kenoticism.) 

c. The human nature of Christ, in addition to its essential 
properties, possessed also more excellent finite gifts than sinful 
mortals have ; these must be ascribed to it because of its perfection 
and sinlessness, Luke 2, 47. 52. However, in addition to these gifts 
"truly divine, uncreated, infinite, and immeasurable gifts," or "all 
the divine attributes" of the divine nature were imparted to Christ 
according to His human nature through the personal union, Col. 
2, 3. 9, for full and external exercise in and after His exaltation, 
Phil. 2, 9 ff. 

d. Since the divine nature communicated to the human nature 
its own attributes, we ascribe the divine idiomata to Christ accord- 
ing to both His divine and His human nature. But to the divine 
nature we ascribe them essentially, or as inherently belonging to 
this nature, while to the human nature we ascribe them by way 
of communication (per communicationem) . So Scripture speaks: 
"The fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Christ," Col. 2, 9, and 
so we avoid the error that the communication occurred through "an 
essential or natural infusion of the properties of the divine nature 
into the human." This error our Confessions condemn, declaring : 
"In no way is conversion, confusion, or equalization of the natures 
in Christ or of their essential attributes to be maintained or ad- 
mitted." {Formula of Concord, Art. VIII, 62 ff.) 



On account of the controversies on this matter it is necessary 
to consider in detail the individual divine properties which accord- 
ing to Scripture were communicated to the human nature. 

a. Omniscience. According to John 3, 34, the Spirit was given 
to the human nature of Christ without measure (ovx Ix /uhgov). 
Since the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, 
Is. 11, 2; 1 Cor. 2, 10. 11, Christ according to His human nature 
therefore received infinite divine wisdom and knowledge. Hence 
we distinguish in Christ a twofold knowledge, namely, the infinite 
divine knowledge which the divine nature communicated to the 
human nature through the personal union (actus personalis) and 
the knowledge which the human nature possessed as natural and 
essential (actus naturalis). The first is infinite knowledge, or 
omniscience (divina omniscientia) ; the second, finite knowledge, 
capable of growth (scientia naturalis, habitualis, experimentalis). 
It is the latter knowledge of which the evangelist speaks; Luke 
2, 52 : "Jesus increased in wisdom." The infinite, divine knowl- 
edge which was communicated to Christ's human nature is attested 
in Col. 2, 3. 

The passage Mark 13, 32 does not deny the communication of 
infinite, divine knowledge to the human nature, but rather describes 
the incarnate Christ in His state of humiliation when He abstained 
from the full use of His communicated attributes. Christ accord- 
ing to His human nature employed His communicated divine gifts 
only as these were necessary for His redemptive work. The re- 
demption of sinful man, however, did not require the promulgation 
of the time and hour when the day of Judgment should take place. 
If the Reformed object that it is impossible to conceive of the 
communicated, divine knowledge as partly quiescent ( actus primus ) 
and partly operative (actus secundus), we remind them of the fact 
that the human mind is incapable of understanding the "mystery 
of godliness," 1 Tim. 3, 16, either in whole or in part. Neverthe- 
less the relation between Christ's operative and inoperative knowl- 
edge may be somewhat illustrated by the human soul, which during 
sleep knows and yet does not know. Both the Reformed and the 
papists, who deny the communication of divine knowledge to 
Christ's human nature, must be regarded as errorists on this point 
(Agnoetae), since they affirm that the Son of Man, even in His 
state of exaltation, is ignorant of many things. 

b. Omnipotence. That Christ according to His human nature 
received divine omnipotence is a truth clearly taught in Scripture, 



Dan. 7, 13. 14; Matt. 28, 18; Heb. 2, 8. Even in His state of 
humiliation He was endowed with almighty power, Matt. 11, 27 ; 
John 13, 3 ; 3, 35 ; Is. 9, 6ff., so that He could heal the sick, Matt. 
4, 23 ; Mark 1, 34; Luke 4, 40, cast out devils, Luke 4, 41 ; 11, 14, 
raise the dead, John 5, 21 ; 12, 1, and, in short, perform all mir- 
acles which according to prophecy the divine Messiah was to accom- 
plish, Is. 35, 4—6 ; 61,1.2; Luke 4,17—21; Matt. 11,4— 6. 

That Christ possessed divine omnipotence also according to 
His human nature is proved especially by those passages which 
expressly declare that this divine property was given to Him as 
the Son of Man, John 5, 26. 27 ; Matt. 16, 27 ; Luke 22, 69 ; Dan. 
7, 13. 14; Col. 2, 9. Hence the Son of Man performed His mir- 
acles not as a mere agent, acting in the name of His Father 
(instrumentum Segyov), but by His own power (instrumentum 
avvegyov), as Scripture expressly points out, John 2, 11 ; 6, 51 — 58. 

With respect to the passages which state that divine properties 
were given to Christ in time, John 5, 26. 27; 13, 3; Matt. 11, 27; 
28, 18, the canon of the ancient Christian Church obtains : "What- 
ever Christ received in time He received according to His human 
nature, not according to the divine." In other words, they refer 
not to His eternal generation, but to His incarnation. "Whatever 
Scripture says that the Word received [in time] ... it says on 
account of His humanity and not on account of His divinity" 
(Athanasius. Triglot, p. 1117.) 

Besides the infinite, divine power which Christ received ac- 
cording to His human nature, He, in His state of humiliation, 
possessed also finite, or limited, power, since to make His redemp- 
tive work possible, He did not always and fully exercise the divine 
prerogatives communicated to His human nature, 2 Cor. 8, 9 ; John 
10, 17. 18 ; Phil. 2, 6 — 8. Only in this way could He "increase in 
wisdom," Luke 2, 52, and suffer and die, Phil. 2, 8 ; though even 
in the state of humiliation He did not always conceal His divine 
power, John 11,40 — 44. The emphatic opposition which the Re- 
formed theologians offer to the Scriptural doctrine of Christ's com- 
municated omnipotence is evident from the statement of Hodge: 
"The human nature of Christ is no more omniscient or almighty 
than the worker of a miracle is omnipotent." (Syst. Theol., 
II, 417.) 

c. Omnipresence. As Holy Scripture ascribes to Christ's 
human nature omniscience and omnipotence, so it ascribes to it 
also omnipresence, Matt. 28, 18—20; Eph. 1, 20—23; 4, 10. The 



omnipresence of Christ's human nature, however, is taught also 
John 1, 14 and Col. 2, 9; for these passages declare that wherever, 
after the incarnation, the Aoyos is present, He is present as the 
Aoyos SvaaQxog (Filius Dei incarnatus). (Neque Aoyog extra car- 
nem, neque caro extra Aoyov.) 

Our dogmaticians, on the basis of Scripture, very emphatically 
reject the so-called extra illud Calvinisticum, according to which the 
A6yog so united Himself with human nature that He indeed alto- 
gether inhabits it, yet at the same time, because He is immense 
and infinite, exists and works also altogether outside the human 
nature. The extra Calvinisticum is not only unscriptural, but 
also self-contradictory. 

While the Reformed regard the whole doctrine of the com- 
munication of attributes as preposterous, they condemn in par- 
ticular the Scriptural truth of Christ's communicated omnipresence 
as a monstrous figment (monstrosum figmentum) or a monster 
of impiety (impium monstrum). (Cp. Pieper, Christliche Dog- 
matik, II, 183 ff.) Denying the personal presence of Christ's 
human nature, they affirm a presence only of its efficacy, and they 
charge their Lutheran opponents with teaching the nonsensical 
view of ubiquity, or of the local extension of the human nature, 
though the Lutheran theologians have always rejected this as 
a puerile fancy; for they explain the omnipresence of Christ's 
human nature not by way of local extension, but by way of His 
illocal, supernatural mode of presence. 

All the arguments of the Reformed against Christ's omni- 
presence which are based upon Christ's ascension into heaven, His 
sitting at the right hand, His second advent, etc., as if these acts 
presupposed a mere local presence, rest upon a childish conception 
of God and heavenly matters. Equally groundless is the argument 
that every real body must always be contained in space, so that 
Christ's human nature must be viewed as always occupying space. 
The universe certainly is a created material body; yet it is not 
in space, but in God, Acts 17, 28. 

As the human nature received divine omniscience and om- 
nipotence in the first moment of the personal union, so also divine 
omnipresence. This does not mean that the human nature through 
the personal union lost its natural properties in such a manner 
that the body of Christ ceased to be at any particular place; for 
the omnipresence of the human nature was not "physical, diffu- 
sive, expansive, gross, local, corporeal, and divisible," but divine 



and supernatural. Our dogmaticians rightly distinguish between 
Christ's simple omnipresence ( nuda adessentia, praesentia partialis, 
ddtaaxaota) and His triumphant omnipresence (omnipraesentia 
totalis, omnipraesentia modificata) , which is always connected with 
divine dominion. The first mode Christ possessed in the state 
of humiliation, John 1, 14; Col. 2, 9; John 3, 13, since after the 
incarnation the Xoyoq is never outside the flesh. The latter mode 
Christ possesses since His exaltation, Eph. 1, 20 — 23 ; 4, 10. 

Besides the divine omnipresence, which was communicated to 
it through the personal union ( actus personalis, praesentia illocalis, 
supernaturalis, repletiva), the human nature of Christ, in His 
state of humiliation, possessed also a local mode of presence ( actus 
naturalis, praesentia localis), Luke 2, 12. 

On the basis of Holy Scripture our dogmaticians thus ascribe 
to the human nature of Christ three modes of presence, namely, 
a) praesentia localis, praesentia circumscriptiva, b) praesentia illo- 
calis, praesentia definitiva, John 20, 19, and c) praesentia repletiva, 
divina, supernaturalis, Eph. 1,23; 4,10. (Cf. Christl. Dogmatik, 
II, 195 If.) To these modes of presence may be added the prae- 
sentia sacramentaXis, according to which Christ's body is truly 
present in the Lord's Supper, Matt. 26, 26. 

The "sitting at the right hand of God" must not be referred 
to a "circumscribed or physical locality/' since, as Gerhard rightly 
comments, "the right hand of God is not a bodily, circumscribed, 
limited, definite place, but the infinite power of God and His most 
efficacious majesty in heaven and earth, or the most efficacious 
dominion by which God preserves and governs all things," Ps. 
18,35; 44,3; 108,6; 63, 8, etc. So also Hollaz writes: "To sit 
at God's right hand means, by virtue of the personal union and the 
exaltation following this, to govern all the works of God's hands 
most powerfully, most efficaciously, and most gloriously, 1 Cor. 
15, 25 27; Ps. 110, 1. 2; Heb. 2, 7. 8." (Cp. Doctr. TheoL, 
p. 403 ff.) 

d. Adoration. As Holy Scripture ascribes to Christ according 
to His human nature divine majesty and glory, Col. 2, 9, so it 
ascribes to Him also divine adoration, John 5, 20 — 23 ; Phil. 2, 
9 — 11 ; Rev. 5, 9. 10. The Eeformed and papists, who deny adora- 
tion to Christ's human nature on the basis of Is. 42, 8 ; Jer. 17, 5, 
show by this denial that in spite of their statements to the contrary 
they hold the Nestorian doctrine, separate the two natures in Christ, 
and deny the mystery of the Incarnation (personal union). All 



who rightly teach the personal union never regard the human 
nature as separate from, but always as united with, the divine 
nature in the one, indivisible person of Christ, so that he who 
adores the divine nature at the same time adores the human nature, 
or the incarnate Christ. 

The question has been debated whether, in connection with 
the second genus, such abstract expressions as "The human nature 
of Christ is quickening" or "The human nature is almighty ," etc., 
should not be replaced by the concrete expression "Christ is quick- 
ening" or "The Son of Man is almighty," since the former may 
mislead the untrained to believe that the human nature apart from 
the personal union (in abstracto reali) is endowed with such power 
or that the human nature possesses divine omnipotence as a special 
gift apart from the omnipotence of the divine nature. 

Such misunderstandings must certainly be corrected ; however, 
the use of these expressions should not be condemned, since Scrip- 
ture itself employs them, John 6,51; 1 John 1,7. In addition, 
they most emphatically affirm the doctrine of the communication 
of attributes, or the Scriptural truth that in Christ the two natures, 
with all their attributes, are most intimately united, not only the 
so-called operative (attributa operativa, IveQytjrixd), as omnipo- 
tence, omniscience, but also the quiescent (attributa quiescentia, 
dvevigyrjia), as eternity, infinity, immensity, Col. 2, 9; John 
1, 14, etc. 

Luther writes on this point: "According to the other, the 
temporal, human birth, also the eternal power of God has been 
given Him; however, in time and not from eternity. For the 
humanity of Christ has not been from eternity like the divinity; 
but as we reckon and write, Jesus, the Son of Mary, is 1543 years 
old this year. But from the instant when divinity and humanity 
were united in one person, the man, the Son of Mary, is, and is 
called, almighty, eternal God, who has eternal might and has created 
and sustains all things per communicationem idiomatum for the 
reason that He is one person with the divinity and is also true 
God." (Formula of Concord, Thor. DecL, VIII, 85.) 

It must be noted, however, that Scripture, though it ascribes 
to the human nature the "fulness of the Godhead," Col. 2, 9, never 
predicates directly of Christ's human nature the quiescent attri- 
butes (eternity, immensity, infinity), but only the operative attri- 
butes (omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, etc.). The reason 
for this our dogmaticians give as follows: In spite of the per- 



sonal union the divine properties remain the essential attributes of 
the divine nature and never become the essential attributes of the 
human nature by transfusion. But they are predicated of the 
human nature in so far as they become active in the human nature 
as in the body of Christ (the human nature quickens, executes 
Judgment, etc.). Hence we ascribe divine omnipotence to the 
human nature not as an essential attribute, but in so far as the 
Son of God exerts His divine omnipotence in His human nature, 
which through the personal union is united with His divine nature. 
On the other hand, those divine properties which within the divine 
essence remain quiescent and do not exert themselves ad extra 
cannot be predicated directly of the human nature. 

To the objection of the Reformed that, unless all divine attri- 
butes may be predicated of the human nature, none whatever can 
be ascribed to it, we reply : — 

a. Also in this matter we adhere strictly to Scripture, which 
indeed ascribes to the human nature of Christ divine omnipotence, 
omniscience, and omnipresence, but not eternity, infinity, im- 
mensity, etc. For this reason the "either-or" of the Reformed must 
be rejected as anti-Scriptural. 

b. But this rationalistic "either-or" is also unreasonable; just 
as unreasonable indeed as if one would argue : "If the human body, 
through its union with the soul, is endowed with life, it must like- 
wise become immaterial. But since it does not become immaterial, 
it does not become alive." Now, as the soul imparts life to the 
body (an operative attribute), but not immateriality (an inopera- 
tive attribute), just so according to Scripture the divine nature of 
Christ directly exerts in the human nature its operative, but not 
its quiescent attributes. 

Yet Christ's quiescent attributes are not entirely excluded 
from His theanthropic activity; for they are exerted ad extra 
through the operative attributes. As God made the world in time 
through His eternal and immense omnipotence, so also Christ 
raised Lazarus from the dead by the infinite power of His eternal 

Moreover, Scripture expressly describes the omnipotence which 
was communicated to the Son of Man as infinite. Dan. 7, 14: 
"And there was given Him dominion and glory. . . . His dominion 
is an everlasting dominion." In this passage the quiescent attri- 
bute of eternity is clearly predicated of Christ's human nature; 
for the glory which the Son of Man received is everlasting. So 



also, according to John 17, 5, Christ was glorified with eternal 
glory; for His human nature, as He says Himself, received the 
same glory which He, as the preexistent Xoyog, had before the 
world was, (Cp. Formula of Concord, VIII, 48 ff.) 


(Genus Apotelesmaticum.) 

Gerhard defines the third genus of the communication of attri- 
butes as "that by which in official acts each nature performs what 
is peculiar to itself, with the participation, however, of the other." 
1 Cor. 15, 3; Gal. 1, 4; Eph. 5, 2. The supreme importance of 
this genus becomes apparent when we consider that Christ could 
accomplish His work of redemption only because in Him the divine 
and the human nature were joined together. 

Chemnitz writes very aptly on this matter: "This union of 
the kingship and priesthood of the Messiah was made in the in- 
terest of the work of redemption for our sake and for the sake of 
our salvation. But as redemption had to be made by means of 
suffering and death, there was need of a human nature. So it 
pleased God that for our comfort, in the offices of the kingship, 
priesthood, and lordship of Christ, our assumed nature should also 
be employed and thus the [official] acts (dnoxeUo/uaxa) of Christ's 
offices should be accomplished in, with, and through both." (Doctr. 
Theol, p. 337.) 

The special treatment of this genus has been rendered neces- 
sary by the antithesis of the Reformed, who teach that both natures 
in the work of redemption acted their parts alone, each without 
participation of the other. Similarly they claim that the human 
nature of Christ contributed to the miracles only as a mere or 
passive instrument (instrumentum &egyov); that it contributed no 
more to them than did the hem of the garment which the woman 
touched, Matt. 9, 20 ; or than did the human nature of the apostles, 
Acts 3, 6, or the rod of Aaron, Ex. 8, 16. Calvin called the merit 
of Christ directly the merit of a man and thus excluded the divine 
nature from the active acquisition of salvation for men. This is 
in full accord with the Reformed view according to which the com- 
munication of the official acts of Christ (dnoxeMofiaxa) cannot be 
referred to the communicatio idiomatum. Practically this means 
that the human nature of Christ must be excluded from all works 
of our Savior which involve divine omnipotence, omnipresence, and 
omniscience. Again, they aver that the omnipresence of Christ in 
His Church, Eph. 1, 20 — 23; 4,10, pertains not to His human 



nature, but to the divine nature exclusively, so that Christ's human 
nature is no more present with the Church than is that of Abraham 
or Paul in glory. For this reason it has become necessary to treat 
the third genus of the communication of attributes with special 

By the term official acts (djioreXeo/xaxa) we understand all 
functions which Christ as the Savior of all men performed in the 
state of humiliation and still performs in His state of exaltation, 
such as dying for the sins of the world, destroying the works of 
the devil, being present with, and ruling and protecting, His 
Church, etc. The Scripture-passages which predicate these official 
works may be grouped as follows: a) such as describe Christ's 
official functions by a concrete term (nomen officii concretutn), as 
Savior, Mediator, Prophet, King, High Priest, etc.; b) such as 
describe particular official acts of Christ, as, for example, to bear 
the sins of the world, John 1, 29; to die for the sins of the world, 
1 Cor. 15, 3; to give Himself for our sins, Gal. 1, 4; to give Him- 
self for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, Eph. 5, 2 ; to destroy 
the works of the devil, 1 John 3,8; to bruise the Serpent's head, 
Gen. 3, 15. 

If the question is asked according to which nature Christ 
performed His official functions for the salvation of the world, we 
reply on the basis of Scripture : No matter whether, in the par- 
ticular passages of Holy Writ which predicate the dnoxeXeofiaxa, 
the Savior is described according to both natures (1 Tim. 1, 15. 
Christ Jesus) or according to one nature only, either the divine 
(Acts 20,28: God) or the human (Matt. 18, 11: Son of Man), 
the works of His office are always performed by the entire person 
according to both natures, inasmuch as each nature contributes that 
which is proper to it and thus acts in communion with, or with 
the participation of, the other. C Anoxemia juaxa sunt operationes 

This is the true Scripture doctrine, which also the ancient 
Church believed and confessed. Athanasius writes: "God the 
Word, having been united with man, performs miracles, not apart 
from the human nature; on the contrary, it has pleased Him to 
work His divine power through it and in it and with it." (Catalog 
of Testimonies. Triglot, p. 1141.) And Leo the Great: "Each 
nature does what is peculiar to it in communion with the other, 
namely, the Word working what belongs to the Word [the Son of 
God] and the flesh executing what belongs to the flesh." (Ibid., 
p. 1109.) 



It is true, Christ indeed suffered and died according to His 
human nature, yet by virtue of the personal union the divine nature 
participated in the suffering and death of the human nature; for 
the human nature was always united with the divine nature, and 
from this union the holy, vicarious Passion of our Savior received 
its redemptive value. So Gerhard declares: "The sufferings and 
bloody death of Christ would have been without a saving result if 
the divine nature had not added a price of infinite value to the 
sufferings and death which He endured for us." (Doctr. Theol., 
p. 336.) And Chemnitz : "If the redemption, atonement, etc., could 
have been accomplished by the divine nature alone or by the human 
nature alone, the Xoyog would have descended in vain from heaven 
for us men and for our salvation and become incarnate." (Ibid.) 

Gerhard is indeed right when, commenting on 1 John 3, 8, he 
remarks: "The Son of God assumed human nature for the very 
purpose that in, with, and through it He might accomplish the 
work of redemption and the several functions of His mediatorial 

It is for the reason just stated that the third genus must be 
maintained in its Scriptural purity; for upon it rests the entire 
comfort which the Gospel of reconciliation proclaims to lost and 
fallen man. Those who deny this genus rob the Christian believer 
of the sweetest comfort which he has, namely, of the Gospel truth 
that "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all 
sin," 1 John 1, 7. 

Fortunately the opponents of the genus apotelesmaticum do 
not draw the conclusions which their false premises really suggest, 
but by a strange, yet fortunate, inconsistency retract in practise 
what they maintain in theory. Hodge, e. g., says at one place : 
"A soul which is omniscient ... is not a human soul. The Christ 
of the Bible and of the human heart is lost if this doctrine be 
true . . . ; omniscience is not an attribute of which a creature can 
be made the organ"; but at another place: "Such expressions as 
Dei mors, Dei passio, Dei sanguis, have the sanction of Scriptural 
as well as Church usage. It follows from this that the satisfaction 
of Christ has all the value which belongs to the obedience and 
sufferings of the eternal Son of God, and His righteousness, as well 
active as passive, is infinitely meritorious." (Syst. Theol., II, 
416. 168.) It is this very truth which the Lutherans mean to 
emphasize by their doctrine of the genus apotelesmaticum. 



B. The Doctrine of the States of Christ. 

(De Statibus Exinanitionis et Exaltationis.) 


The incarnation of Christ consisted essentially in the para- 
mount miracle that the Son of God, with the fulness of the God- 
head, entered into an indissoluble personal union with the human 
nature, John 1, 14 ; Col. 2, 9. Hence from the very moment of 
its conception, Luke 1, 35, the human nature of Christ was in pos- 
session (xzfjoig) of all divine attributes and of all divine majesty 
and glory, John 1, 14; 2, 11. However, in order to be able to 
redeem us by His most holy obedience (active, Gal. 4, 4. 5 ; passive, 
Is. 53, 4 — 6), Christ, from the time of His conception until His 
revivification in the grave, refrained from the full and constant use 
{XQfjoto) of His communicated attributes, majesty, and glory, Phil. 
2, 6ff. Throughout His earthly life, till the completion of His 
work of redemption, He went about in the form of a servant, 
bearing all the weaknesses and infirmities of human nature after 
the Fall and being subject to the obligation (Matt. 3, 15; Gal. 
4, 4) and curse (Gal. 3, 13) of the divine Law. 

This condition of self-renunciation we designate as "Christ's 
state of humiliation" (status exinanitionis). The humiliation of 
Christ did not consist essentially in the act of the incarnation, 
although it was a most gracious condescension for the Son of God 
to assume our human nature; for while the state of humiliation 
ceased with His burial, Phil. 2, 8f., the personal union resulting 
from the incarnation never ceased, Eph. 1, 20 — 23 ; 4, 10. Again, 
while in the incarnation the Son of God entered into a true and real 
union with human nature, the state of humiliation does not pertain 
to Christ's divine, but only to His human nature (against modern 
kenoticism). Baier defines the state of humiliation as follows: 
"The state of humiliation consists in this, that Christ for a time 
renounced, truly and really, yet freely, the plenary exercise of the 
divine majesty that He might suffer and die for the life of the 
world." (Doctr. Theol, p. 377 ff.) 

The doctrine of Christ's humiliation as set forth in the Con- 
fessions of the Lutheran Church is truly Scriptural. Scripture 
not only clearly establishes the doctrine of the two states of Christ, 
Phil. 2, 6 — 11, in general, but also ascribes to His human nature 
in the days of His flesh full possession of all divine attributes, 
majesty, and glory, John 1, 14; 2, 11; 5, 17; Matt. 11, 27; Col. 
2, 3. 9, etc., while in other passages it presents the same Christ as 



not using His divine prerogatives, so that the one Christ, who is 
ineffably rich, was also poor, Matt. 8, 20 ; 2 Cor. 8, 9 ; He who is 
almighty God, John 6, 68. 69 ; Is. 9, 6, was also weak, Luke 22, 
42. 43; He who is the Creator and Lord of all things, John 1, 
1 — 4; Matt. 8, 27. 29, was also subject to man, Luke 2, 51. 52 ; He 
who is the Prince of Life, Acts 3, 15 ; Rev. 1, 18, was also captured 
and slain by men, Luke 22, 54. 63 ; 23, 33—37. 46. 

These apparently contradictory statements, Scripture explains 
by the fact that the Son of Man did not always and fully use 
the divine prerogatives which were communicated to Him as man 
(John 10, 18 : Christ died because He did not use His power to 
live; Phil. 2, 6 — 8: Christ died because He humbled Himself). 
Hence the state of humiliation became possible and real because 
Christ voluntarily refrained from the complete and uninterrupted 
use of the fulness of the Godhead, which from the very moment 
of His conception dwelled in Him bodily. 

The reason why our Savior thus abstained from the constant 
use of His plenary, communicated divine majesty is that according 
to Scripture He executed the work of redemption through His 
vicarious satisfaction, Is. 53, 1 — 6; 2 Cor. 5, 19 — 21. Had He 
always and fully used His divine majesty, as He did at His 
transfiguration and after the resurrection, Matt. 17, 1 — 8; John 
20, 17. 19, He could not have become our Substitute, Phil. 2, 6 — 8; 
Is. 53, 1 — 6, and could not have rendered perfect obedience, Gal. 4, 
4. 5; 3, 13, to His heavenly Father in our place. But since He 
humbled Himself (ixevcoaev) by refraining from the full and un- 
interrupted use of His divine majesty, assuming the form of 
a servant, appearing in the likeness of men, and so rendering per- 
fect obedience to His Father, Phil. 2, 6 — 8, He has become our true 
Redeemer (Jer. 23, 6: "the Lord our Righteousness"), whose pov- 
erty is our riches (2 Cor. 8, 9), whose obedience is our redemption 
(Gal. 4, 4. 5), and whose death is our propitiation (Rom. 3, 24. 25). 

Certainly, whenever it was demanded in the interest of His 
redemptive work, Christ employed His imparted majesty and glory, 
not only when performing miracles before His great Passion, John 
2,11, or when exercising His prophetic ministry, John 1,18, but 
also when, as our great High Priest, He gave Himself for us as 
an offering, Luke 23, 34; for not only was His human nature sus- 
tained by the imparted divine properties in the dreadful agony 
of His Passion, Matt. 26, 38. 39; 27, 46, but rays of divine glory 
shone also ad extra through the intense gloom of His suffering, 
John 19, 25—27; Luke 23,43. 




a. The humiliation must not be regarded as identical with the 
incarnation, for in that case the humiliation would pertain to the 
divine nature inasmuch as it assumed the human nature (imdoaig), 
and the glorification would consist in the putting aside of the 
human nature. It is true, Christ's incarnation did imply a most 
wonderful condescension, and sometimes this truth has been ex- 
pressed even in orthodox circles by the term humiliation" ( exinar 
nitio sensu ecclesiastica accepta). However, when Scripture speaks 
of the humiliation of Christ in its proper sense ( exvnanitio sensu 
biblico accepta), in which it stands in contrast to the exaltation, it 
means that Christ became man in poverty and wretchedness, or 
that He assumed the form of a servant {fiog(pr} dovkov), though He 
possessed the form of God (jbtogcpr] deov), as Phil. 2, 6. 7 attests. 
Strong rightly says: "We may dismiss as unworthy of serious 
notice that view, that it [the humiliation] consisted essentially in 
the union of the Xoyog with human nature; for this union with 
human nature continues in the state of exaltation." (Syst. Theol., 
p. 701.) 

b. The humiliation of Christ did not consist in this, that the 
Son of God, for the purpose of becoming incarnate, divested Him- 
self for a time of His operative, or relative, attributes, such as 
omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, so that the divine 
nature was reduced, or diminished, by the incarnation. This is 
the doctrine of the modern kenoticists (Thomasius, Delitzsch, Lut- 
hardt, etc.). Extreme kenoticists (Gess, Hofmann, Frank) even 
claim that the Son of God in His incarnation emptied Himself of 
all divine attributes, or that His divine personality was replaced 
by a human personality. 

Kenoticism therefore undeifies Christ to account for the "true 
human development" of His human nature. But thereby it contra- 
dicts all Scripture-passages which declare, on the one hand, that 
Christ in His state of humiliation was one with the Father essen- 
tially, John 10, 30. 38 ; 14, 10, so that His divine mode of subsis- 
tence was not changed by the incarnation, Col. 2, 3. 9 ; and, on the 
other hand, that He performed the divine works together with the 
Father, so that also His divine mode of operation was not altered 
when He became incarnate, John 5, 17 — 19. The doctrine of 
kenoticism is therefore rationalistic and anti-Scriptural. 

The true human development of Christ, Luke 2, 52, as well as 




His answered prayers, Luke 22,43; John 17, 5, are adequately ex- 
plained by Scripture when it informs us that our Savior did not 
always use the divine attributes communicated to the human 
nature; for since the Son of Man did not always employ His 
divine majesty, He could ask and receive of the Father just as any 
other man, Phil. 2, 7. 

Modern kenoticism, however, in addition to denying clear 
Scriptural facts regarding the incarnation, also commits the serious 
mistake of transforming the incorruptible God (Ps. 102, 26. 27; 
1 Tim. 6, 16; Mai. 3, 6) into a being subject to change and thus 
destroys the very concept of God. Yet even so it does not accom- 
plish its object; for as long as kenoticists affirm a union of God 
and man, the mystery of the incarnation remains, even if God is 
conceived as minus some attributes. The mystery of the incarna- 
tion can be removed only by rejecting the incarnation in its entirety 
or by regarding Christ as a mere man, who is without any divine 
attributes (Modernists). 

This fact has been recognized by rationalistic theologians of 
another type (Doraer, etc.), who, in order to explain the mystery 
of the incarnation, ascribed to the human nature of Christ inde- 
pendent personal existence. But this rationalistic substitute is as 
unsatisfactory as is kenoticism ; for it destroys the very concept of 
the incarnation, or of the assumption of human nature into the 
person of the Son of God. In that case there would be no personal 
union, but at best only a union by adoption (adoptionism). 

c. The humiliation does not consist in the mere concealment 
of the use of the divine majesty imparted to the human nature 
(xgvyHs xijg xQ*l aecjl >s)> but in the real renunciation of the full use 
of the imparted majesty according to the human nature (xevcooig 
rrjg xQy° ea) s). In the Cryptist-Kenotist Controversy, 1619 — 1627, 
between the Tuebingen theologians (Osiander, Nicolai, and Thum- 
mius) and the Giessen theologians (Mentzer and Feuerborn) this 
question became controverted. The Tuebingen theologians ascribed 
to the human nature of Christ the sitting at the right hand of the 
Father even in the state of humiliation, which meant that our 
Lord made full use even then of the divine majesty, though in 
a hidden way (xgviftg), whence they were called Cryptists. This 
position is untenable in the light of the Scripture-passages which 
ascribe the sitting at the right hand of God to the human nature 
of Christ in the state of exaltation. The Tuebingen theologians 
admitted, however, that Christ, in performing His sacerdotal office, 



or in His suffering and dying, renounced the full use of the divine 
majesty communicated to the human nature. The Giessen theo- 
logians, on the other hand, asserted that the human nature of 
Christ in the state of humiliation was not present with all crea- 
tures, and they were inclined to exclude it from the preservation 
and government of the universe, Christ having thus emptied Him- 
self (Phil. 2, 7) according to His human nature of that much of 
the divine majesty. For this reason they were called kenotists. 
But they did not hold with the modern kenoticists that Christ 
according to His divine nature divested Himself of His divine 
attributes. They did not teach an absolute renunciation of the use 
of the divine majesty, but freely admitted this use in the case of 
miracles. Their position is untenable in the face of John 5, 17. 

With regard to the terminology which the Church employs in 
connection with Christ's states of humiliation and exaltation we 
may note the following : — 

a. The Formula of Concord employs the expressions conceal- 
ment (xQvyig) and non-use of the divine majesty of Christ com- 
municated to the human -nature as synonyms. (Thor. Decl., VIII, 
26. 65 : "This was concealed and withheld [for the greater part] 
at the time of the humiliation.") This usage of the two terms 
is Scriptural; for the humiliation of Christ involved a real con- 
cealment of Christ's divine majesty, inasmuch as He was true and 
very God, Col. 2, 9, and yet appeared as a mere man, John 19, 5. 
On the other hand, the humiliation of Christ involved also a real 
renunciation, not indeed of the attributes according to His divine 
nature, but of the appearance in the form of God {fiogtprj deov), 
or of the full use of His imparted divine attributes ; for He posi- 
tively appeared in the form of a servant (fiogq?rj dovXov). 

b. The expressions "to be in heaven/' John 3, 13, and "to sit at 
the right hand of God," Mark 16, 19, are not synonymous; for the 
first is predicated of Christ in His humiliation, while the second 
is the triumphant act of His exaltation. 

c. When describing Christ's omnipresence according to His 
human nature, our theologians have used the expressions omni- 
praesentia intima and omnipraesentia extima. The expression 
omnipraeserUia extima is used correctly when it is employed as 
synonymous with sessio ad dextram Dei. But when it is under- 
stood in the sense that Christ was not present with the creatures 
during His state of humiliation, it denies the personal union. The 
terms are used rightly when the one denotes the presence of the 



Son of Man before the exaltation and the other His glorious 
presence after the exaltation. 

d. It has been said that Christ before His exaltation, in the 
state of humiliation, worked in and with the human nature (in et 
cum came), but not always through the human nature (non per 
carnem). The expression non per carnem in this statement is 
Scriptural if it denotes Christ's perpetual and triumphant use of 
the divine majesty imparted to the human nature (usus plenarius), 
or the enthronement of His human nature at the right hand of God. 
It is incorrect if it is used to deny the Scripture truth that Christ 
also in His state of humiliation performed His miracles, His 
prophetic ministry, and His work of preservation and government, 
John 5,17; 1,18, within or through the flesh, John 1,14; Col. 
2, 3. 9 ; for whatever Christ does after the incarnation He does not 
outside the flesh (extra carnem), but as the God-man, or as the 
incarnate Christ, 1 John 1, 7; Heb. 9, 14; 2, 8. 9; John 5, 26. 27; 
j .uke 22, 69 ; Phil. 2, 9 ; etc., in other words, within and thus 
ttirough the flesh. 


The humiliation of Christ embraces all events of His earthly 
life from His conception to His burial, the latter included. Christ's 
descent into hell (descensus ad inferos) must be excluded from 
His state of humiliation, 1 Pet. 3, 18 ; Col. 2, 15. The time during 
which our Lord sojourned on earth, Scripture denominates "the 
days of His flesh," al fj/xegat xfjg oagxos, Heb. 5, 7. Christ's 
humiliation therefore includes : — 

a. His conception and nativity. These two events belong to 
Christ's state of humiliation inasmuch as the incarnation, which in 
itself was not a humiliation, though a most gracious condescension, 
took place under extremely humiliating circumstances ; for by His 
incarnation the Son of God took upon Himself the whole misery 
and wretchedness which sin had brought upon fallen man, 2 Cor. 
8, 9 ; Luke 9, 58; Phil. 2, 6. 7 ; Matt. 8, 17. Christ was conceived 
and born as the Savior of the world, Luke 2, 11 ; for through His 
most holy conception and birth He atoned for our sinful concep- 
tion and birth, Ps. 51, 5 ; Gal. 4, 4. 5. The virgin birth of our 
Lord is a fact clearly attested by Scripture, Is. 7, 14 ; Matt. 1, 23 ; 
Luke 1, 34. God willed that the Messiah should be the Son of 
a virgin, Matt. 1, 22. 23; Is. 7, 14, true man, yet without sin, 
Heb, 7, 26. 



Luther writes : "Therefore the Seed of the Woman could not 
be an ordinary man; for He had to crush the power of the devil, 
sin, and death; and since all men are subject to the devil on ac- 
count of sin and death, He most assuredly had to be without sin. 
Now, human nature does not bear such seed or fruit, as said above ; 
for they are all under the devil because of their sin, ... So the 
only means to accomplish the desired end was this : the Seed must 
be a truly natural Son of the woman, not born, however, of the 
woman in a natural way, but by an extraordinary act of God, in 
order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled that He should be the 
Seed of only a woman, not of a man; for the text [Gen. 3, 15] 
clearly says that He shall be the Seed of a woman." (St. L., 
XX, 1796f.) 

Whether our Savior was born clauso utero or not we may re- 
gard as an open question, though this is possible on account of the 
communication of attributes. (Cp. Formula of Concord, Thor. 
Decl., VIII, 24; VII, 100.) The denial of the virgin birth of our 
Savior by rationalists and Modernists (Th. Kaftan: It is "worth- 
less from a religious point of view," "religioes wertlos") is contrary 
to the express testimony of Scripture and is a result and proof 
of their unbelief. 

The question whether Mary afterwards in her marriage with 
Joseph had children or not (semper virgo) the ancient Church as 
well as Luther and the older Lutheran dogmaticians have answered 
in the negative, while the opinions of more recent exegetes are 
divided on the matter. The question is a purely historical one 
and may be left open since Scripture does not answer it with suffi- 
cient clearness. Cp. Matt. 1, 25; Luke 2, 7; Matt. 12, 46 ff. ; 
13,55ff.; John 2, 12; 7,3ff.; Gal. 1, 19. (Cp. Pieper, Christliche 
Dogmatik, II, 366 ff.) Eusebius, III, 11, according to Hegesippus: 
"Alphaeus (Cleophas) was a brother of Joseph, who after the death 
of Alphaeus adopted his children, so that these (cousins of Jesus) 
became brothers of our Savior in the legal sense." According to 
this view, James, the apostle and brother of the Lord, Gal. 1, 19, 
and James, the son of Alphaeus, Matt. 10, 3, are identical. Chem- 
nitz (Jerome) : Mariam post partum (Matt. 1, 25) aut cum Ioseph 
concubuisse aut filios ex ipso sustulisse non credimus, quia non 
legimus, sc. in Scriptura Sacra. The term first-born (Luke 2, 7) 
does not prove that Mary had other sons. 

b. The circumcision, education, and life of Christ. As all 
Jewish male infants were circumcised on the eighth day, so Jesus 



was made subject to the divine Law by circumcision on the eighth 
day, Luke 2, 21, although He was the Lord of the Law, Matt. 
12, 8 ; Mark 2, 28. Hence the circumcision of Christ is rightly 
regarded as a part of His redemptive work. 

Though Jesus had no faults that required correction by edu- 
cation, but was rather a pattern of virtue even in His childhood, 
Luke 2, 51. 52, since He was 'Tioly, harmless, undefiled, and sepa- 
rate from sinners," Heb. 7, 26, He nevertheless by real study in- 
creased in wisdom according to the natural knowledge of His 
human nature (secundum scientiam naturalem et experimentalem) , 
because in His state of humiliation He did not always and fully 
use the divine omniscience communicated to His human nature, 
Phil. 2, 6. 7. 

In His visible sojourn on earth Christ appeared in the form 
of a servant and the likeness of man, enduring all troubles, dangers, 
temptations, reproaches, and hardships that are common to men 
in general, Matt. 8, 20. He also voluntarily subjected Himself to 
the civil government, Matt. 17, 27, and appeared ordinarily as 
a mere man, so that He was regarded as equal or inferior to others, 
Matt. 9,14; 16,13.14. 

c. The suffering, death, and burial of Christ. The suffering 
of Christ extended throughout the days of His visible sojourn on 
earth, Matt. 2, 13 ; Luke 2, Iff., but culminated in the passio magna 
during the last two days of His earthly life. 

The passio magna is the extreme anguish which our Redeemer 
suffered from Gethsemane to Calvary, partly in His soul, partly in 
His body, by enduring to the end the most extreme and bitter 
sorrows for the atonement of our sins, Is. 53, 4 — 6 ; 2 Cor. 5, 21. 

The agony of being forsaken by God, Matt. 27, 46, was the 
endurance of divine wrath on account of the sins of men in His 
soul, just as if He Himself had committed the imputed trans- 
gressions. Or we may say, it was the endurance of the pangs of 
hell (dolores infernales), which consist essentially in separation 
from God, Matt. 8, 12 ; 25, 41 ; 2 Thess. 1, 9. 

Our dogmaticians aptly describe the agony of the desertio as 
the sensus irae divinae propter peccata hominum imputata. But 
it is unscriptural to ascribe to Christ despair (desperatio) in His 
extreme anguish, since despair is wickedness and therefore not in 
agreement with His sinless character, Ps. 22, 2. 19 ; Luke 23, 46 ; 
Gal. 4, 4. 5. 

The death of Christ was a true death, or the separation of His 



soul from His body, Matt. 27, 50; Mark 15, 37; Luke 23, 46; 
John 19,30. In Christ's death not only His soul, but also His 
body remained in communion with the divine nature (unio per- 
sonalis), so that His death was truly that of the Son of God, 
Acts 3, 15. The possibility of Christ's death under these circum- 
stances is a mystery so great that He Himself has explained it, 
John 10, 17. 18. He could die because He did not always and fully 
use the divine majesty imparted to His human nature. 

The honorable burial of Christ and the preservation of His 
body in the grave Scripture presents as a special prerogative of 
the Messiah, Is. 53, 9; Ps. 16, 10; Acts 2, 31; 13, 35—37, who 
after the completion of His redemptive work, Is. 53, 10 — 12, was to 
be highly exalted over all things, Phil. 2, 9—11; Eph. 1, 20—23. 

Scholastic theologians raised the question whether Christ 
might be called a true man also while His body was resting in 
the grave. Quenstedt rightly designates this a questio curiosa, 
based upon a false definition of a human being ( ens vivum, animal). 
Scripture clearly affirms that Christ gave Himself for us as a true 
man, 1 Tim. 2, 5. 6, which includes that He was a true man also 
in death. 


Christ's state of exaltation began with His return to life in 
the grave and exhibited itself to the lower world by His descent 
into hell, to the world by His glorious resurrection, and to the 
highest heavens by His ascension and session at the right hand 
of God the Father. 

Our dogmaticians define the state of exaltation as "the state 
of Christ, the God-man, in which He, according to His human 
nature, having laid aside the infirmities of the flesh, received and 
assumed the plenary exercise of the divine majesty" (Baier). 

The doctrine of Christ's exaltation is clearly taught in Phil. 
2,9—11; Eph. 1,20— 23; 4,10; etc. The Formula of Concord 
expressly rejects the error (kenosis) that Christ was exalted accord- 
ing to His divine nature. It declares: "[We reject and condemn] 
when it is taught . . . that all power in heaven and on earth was 
restored, that is, delivered again, to Christ according to His divine 
nature, at the resurrection and His ascension to heaven, as though 
He had also according to His divinity laid this aside and aban- 
doned it in His state of humiliation." The reason for this rejec- 
tion is given in the words: "By this doctrine not only the words 
of the testament of Christ are perverted, but also the way is pre- 



pared for the accursed Arian heresy, so that finally the eternal 
deity of Christ is denied and thus Christ, and with Him our sal- 
vation, is entirely lost, if this false doctrine were not firmly con- 
tradicted from the immovable foundation of the divine Word and 
our simple Christian [catholic] faith." (Art. VIII, Epit., 39.) 

As Christ's humiliation, so also His exaltation took place for 
our salvation, so that in the doctrine of the two states the entire 
Gospel of reconciliation is wrapped up, Eom. 4, 25; 2 Cor. 5, 
18 — 21. Our Christian faith rests upon both the crucified and the 
glorified Christ, 1 Cor. 15, 1—23; Rom. 4, 25. 


a. The descent of Christ into hell (descensus ad inferos). The 
doctrine of Christ's descent into hell rests upon 1 Pet. 3, 18 — 20 > 
which describes in detail both its nature and purpose. Additional 
light is shed upon the doctrine by Col. 2, 15. According to 1 Pet. 
3, 18 the descensus ad inferos consisted in the glorious act of the 
quickened Christ (Zcoojzoiri'&ets), by which He, with soul and body 
(against the papists and modern theologians), according to His 
human nature, went (Tzogev&elg) to the prison ((pvXaxfj) of the evil 
spirits and the damned (&7iei&rjoaoiv) and preached {IxrjQv^ev) 
to them. The Greek verb xrjgvooeiv does not necessarily mean to 
"announce salvation," but is a vox media, which stands for both 
Law- and Gospel-preaching; in itself it does not mean more than 
to proclaim, to announce, to publish. It is used for the preach- 
ing of the Law in Matt. 3, 1 ; Acts 15, 21 ; Eom. 2, 21 ; Rev. 5, 2 ; 
Luke 12, 3. In 1 Pet. 3, 19, as the context shows, the term mani- 
festly denotes Law-preaching, since Christ here came as a "Herald"" 
(xrjQv£) to bring the proclamation of His victory to such as had 
heard the divine Word on earth, yet had refused to accept it 
(anei&rjoaoiv). To them Christ therefore appeared as the divine 
Judge, whose authority they had scorned on earth. That this is 
the meaning of Christ's appearance in hell is proved by the very 
scope of the text; for in the preceding verses the Christians are 
exhorted to bear suffering at the hand of the ungodly, trusting in 
the righteous Judge, who will mete out due punishment to all 
enemies of His Church at His second advent. 

The descent of Christ into hell foreshadowed the final judg- 
ment of the wicked ; and it is for this reason that St. Peter ref erB 
to it in this passage. 

Hollaz is right when he says : "Christ descended into hell, not 



for the purpose of suffering any evil from the demons, John 19, 30 ; 
Luke 24, 26, but to triumph over the devils, Rev. 1, 18; Col. 2, 15, 
and to convince condemned men that they were justly shut up in 
the infernal prison, 1 Pet. 3, 19. The preaching of Christ in hell 
was not evangelical, but legal, accusatory, terrifying, and that, too, 
both verbal, by which He convinced them that they had deserved 
eternal punishments, and real, by which He struck frightful terror 
into them." (Doctr. Theol., p. 396.) 

In opposition to various errorists we hold that it was not the 
purpose of Christ in descending to hell — 

a) To preach the Gospel to the evil spirits and their captives 
(Origen, all teachers of a complete restoration, or apokatastasis) y 
or at least to those of the damned who in their earthly life did not 
have the opportunity to hear the Gospel (Church Fathers, modern 
theologians). The statement in 1 Pet 4, 6 that "the Gospel was 
preached also to them that are dead" does not refer to Christ's 
preaching in hell, but to the preaching of the Gospel to men while 
they were still living on earth. This follows from the clause of 
purpose, "that they might be judged according to men in the flesh." 
At any rate, the passage does not teach a probation after death. 

b) To suffer the pangs of hell (Aepinus, Flacius) or to pay 
to Satan, as the keeper of the prison, a ransom for the redeemed 
souls (Origen). For neither was Christ's descent a part of His 
humiliation, Luke 23, 43 — 46, nor did Satan have any authority to 
triumph over man and to hold him captive, 1 John 3, 8; Heb. 
2, 14. 15. The passage Acts 2, 24 must not be construed as 
teaching any suffering of Christ after death; for the expression 
"pains of death" is equivalent to "power of death," as the context 
clearly shows. 

Against John Parsimonius, who, on the ground that hell is no 
locality, held that Christ "descended into hell" only in the sense 
that during His lifetime He suffered the pains of hell, our dogma- 
ticians declared that Scripture teaches us to believe that our Savior 
descended into hell truly and really, though not by any local move- 
ment, since the quickened Christ was no longer in the form of 
a servant, but in the form of God, and so constantly employed the 
divine majesty communicated to His human nature. 

As John Parsimonius, so also the Eeformed deny Christ's real 
descent into hell, some referring the descensus to the entire state 
of humiliation (Sohnius), others to His burial (Bucer, Beza), and 
still others to the pains which He suffered in His soul during His 



great Passion (Calvin). In the Lutheran Church the doctrine of 
Christ's descent into hell was definitely fixed on the basis of Scrip- 
ture by the adoption of Article IX of the Formula of Concord. 
Hollaz defines the descensus ad inferos thus: "The descent of 
Christ into the lower world is the true, real, and supernatural 
movement by which Christ, having been freed from the chains of 
death and restored to life, in His entire person betook Himself to 
the lower regions that He might exhibit Himself to the evil spirits 
and to condemned men as the Conqueror of death." (Doctr. Theol., 
p. 379.) 

b. The resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ has 
been defined by Hollaz as "the act of glorious victory by which 
Christ, the God-man, through the same power as that of God the 
Father and the Holy Spirit, brought forth His body, reunited with 
the soul and glorified, and showed it alive to His disciples by 
various proofs, for the confirmation of our peace, fellowship, joy, 
and hope in our own future resurrection." (Doctr. Theol., p. 380.) 
This definition is both Scriptural and complete. 

According to Scripture the resurrection of Christ, on the one 
hand, was the work of God the Father, who acted as its efficient 
Cause, Eph. 1,20; Rom. 6, 4. As such our Savior's resurrection 
was the actual absolution, or justification, of the whole world ; for 
by the resurrection, or justification, of the divine Substitute of 
man God declared all sinners free from sin, Rom. 4, 24. 25; 10, 9. 
For this reason Christ's resurrection is the object of justifying 
faith, 1 Cor. 15, 14. 17. 21. Calov writes of this: "As God pun- 
ished our sins in Christ, which were placed upon, and imputed to, 
Him as our Substitute, so also by raising Him from the dead He 
absolved Him from our sins imputed to Him and therefore also 
absolved us in Him." (Biblia Illustr., ad Horn. 4, 25.) 

On the other hand, Scripture describes also Christ Himself as 
the efficient Cause (causa efficiens) of His resurrection, John 2, 19; 
10, 17. 18, inasmuch as He is true God and in possession of the 
same divine power (una numero omnipotentia) as the Father and 
the Holy Ghost, John 5, 19. From this point of view Christ's 
resurrection is a most powerful proof for His deity and divine 
Saviorship, John 2,18 — 21. 

The body of Christ which, reunited with the soul, came forth 
from the grave was the same body which the Son of God assumed 
in the body of Mary and which He subjected to suffering and death, 
John 20, 27. But the risen body of Christ possessed new properties 



(idem corpus essentia, novum qualitatibus). The natural body 
{oibfxa ywxixor, 1 Cor. 15, 44) had become a spiritual body (ac&yua 
jzvevf^axtxov, 1 Cor. 15, 44), that is, a glorified body (oca/ua rijs 
dofye, Phil. 3,21). 

The resurrection of Christ occurred clauso sepulchro, or 
through the closed and sealed tomb, Matt. 28, 1 — 6. This truth 
is denied by the Keformed theologians because they reject the com- 
munication of attributes, John 20, 19. 

The eating of the food by the risen Savior, Luke 24, 43, oc- 
curred not from necessity, but from free will ; not for the nourish- 
ment of His body, but for the strengthening of the faith of the 

With regard to the purpose of the resurrection, Hollaz says 
correctly that Christ rose again in order to manifest the victory 
which He had obtained over death and the devil, Acts 2, 24 ; Heb. 
2, 14. 15, and to offer and apply to all men the fruits of His Passion 
and death, Rom. 4, 25; 1 Pet. 1, 3. 4; John 11, 25. 26; 14, 19; 
2 Cor. 4, 14; 1 Thess. 4, 14; Eom. 6, 4; 2 Cor. 5, 15. For this 
reason the doctrine of Christ's resurrection is fundamental for the 
entire Christian religion. 

c. The forty days between Christ's resurrection and ascension. 
The information which Holy Scripture gives with regard to the 
forty days between Christ's resurrection and ascension is only 
fragmentary. After His triumphant victory over death our Savior 
no longer associated with His disciples as He did in the days of His 
flesh, Luke 24, 44, yet He continually appeared to them, Acts 1, 3 ; 
1 Cor. 15, 4 — 8, conversed and ate with them, Luke 24, 41 — 43, and 
convinced them that He was the Christ, the Son of God, John 20, 

d. The ascension of Christ. Christ's ascension may be viewed 
either in a wider sense, including His sitting at the right hand of 
God, Acts 2, 33. 34; Eph. 4, 10, or in a narrower sense, embracing 
only the visible elevation of Christ on high, Luke 24, 51 ; Acts 1, 
9 — 11. In this article we use the term in the latter signification. 

In contradistinction to the resurrection the ascension occurred 
before witnesses, Acts 1, 9 — 14. Essentially it consisted in a local 
movement upward (motus localis), until the Savior was received 
by a cloud, Acts 1, 9. 

The heaven into which Christ ascended is not only the heaven 
of the blessed saints (John 14, 2 : domicUium beatorum ascensionis 
terminus ad quern proprius), but also the right hand of Ood 



(coelum maiestaticum). God's right hand is not a definite place, 
but His omnipotent power, which fills heaven and earth, Matt. 
26, 64 ; Ex. 15, 6 ; Heb. 1, 3 ; 8, 1 ; 12, 2 ; Ps. 139, 10 ; Eph. 1, 

The purpose of the ascension was, a) with respect to Christ 
Himself, His public and triumphant certification as the Savior of 
the world, or His solemn enthronement according to His human 
nature, John 6, 60 — 62, and, b) with respect to all believers, the 
most glorious assurance that they, too, shall follow Christ into 
heaven, John 14,21; 17,24. 

The Reformed regard heaven as created space, in which 
Christ's human nature is enclosed (Christus comprehensus et cir- 
cumscriptus), so that, according to His human nature, He is 
present neither in the Lord's Supper nor anywhere else outside the 
heavenly place in which His human nature is shut in. Acts 3, 21 
does not prove the error of the Reformed. (Cf. Formula of Con- 
cord, Thor. Decl., VII, 119.) 

Hollaz gives the following comprehensive definition of Christ's 
ascension: "The ascension is the glorious act of Christ by which, 
after having been resuscitated, He betook Himself, according to 
His human nature, by a true, real, and local motion, according to 
His voluntary determination (per liberam oeconomiam) and in 
a visible manner unto the clouds and thence in an invisible manner 
into the common heaven of the blessed and to the very throne of 
God, that, having triumphed over His enemies, He might occupy 
the kingdom of God, Acts 3, 21, reopen the closed paradise, Rev. 
3, 7, and prepare a permanent inheritance for us in heaven, John 
14, 2." (Doctr. Theol., p. 380.) 

e. Christ's sitting at the right hand of Ood. Since the right 
hand of God is His omnipresent power and operation, Ps. 139, 
9. 10; 118, 15. 16, Christ's sitting at the right hand of God the 
Father is His full and incessant use of the divine majesty com- 
municated to the human nature for universal and most glorious 
government in the kingdoms of power, grace, and glory, 1 Cor. 15, 
25. 27; Ps. 110, 1 ; Heb. 2, 7. 8. Christ's session at the right hand 
of God is therefore His exaltation, according to His human nature, 
to the sovereign lordship and rule over all things, Eph. 1, 20 — 23 ; 
4,10; 1 Pet. 3,22; Acts 3,21. (Cp. Formula of Concord, Thor. 
Decl., VIII, 27.) 

Concerning the participation of the human nature in the om- 
nipotent operation of the divine nature in the states of humili- 



ation and exaltation, we may note the following: As the divine 
majesty (<5ofa) was always in the human nature after the incarna- 
tion, John 1, 14; Col. 2, 9, yet revealed itself in a peculiar way 
through the human nature at the transfiguration, Matt. 17, 1 — 8, 
so also the omnipotent operation of the divine nature was always 
in the human nature after the incarnation, yet revealed itself most 
gloriously after its exaltation to the right hand of God. 

The sitting of Christ at the right hand of God may be defined 
in all its aspects as "the highest degree of glory, in which Christ, 
the God-man, having been exalted as to His human nature to the 
throne of divine majesty, most powerfully and by His immediate 
presence governs all things which are in the kingdoms of power, 
grace, and glory for the praise of His own name and the solace 
and safety of the afflicted Church." (Hollaz, Doctr. Theol, p. 381.) 

The special comfort for the believer which attaches to Christ's 
triumphant session at the right hand of God is beautifully expressed 
by the Formula of Concord in the following words (Thor. Decl., 
VII, 78 f.) : "We hold . . . that also according to His assumed 
nature and with the same He [Christ] can be, and also is, present 
where He will, and especially that in His Church and congregation 
on earth He is present as Mediator, Head, King, and High Priest, 
not in part, or one half of Him only, but the entire person of 
Christ is present, to which both natures belong, the divine and the 
human; not only according to His divinity, but also according to 
and with His assumed human nature, according to which He is our 
Brother and we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, even as 
He has instituted His Holy Supper for the certain assurance and 
confirmation of this, that also according to that nature according 
to which He has flesh and blood He will be with us and dwell, work, 
and be efficacious in us." 

f. Christ's second advent. The doctrine of Christ's visible and 
glorious return for the final Judgment will be considered under the 
head of Eschatology, where it properly belongs. 

C. The Doctrine of Christ's Office. 

(De Opere sive Officio Christi.) 

The incarnation of the Son of God took place in order that 
the work of redemption, decreed by God from eternity, might be 
accomplished, John 17, 4; 3, 16; Matt. 18, 11; Luke 19, 10; 
1 Tim. 1, 15. The Augsburg Confession declares (Art. Ill) : "The 
Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in 



the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary . . . that He might reconcile 
the Father unto us and to be a Sacrifice, not only for original 
guilt, but also for all actual sins of men." Hence, whatever Christ 
in His state of humiliation did as the God-man, Luke 1, 30. 31; 
Matt. 1, 21. 25 ; Luke 2, 21, and what He still does as such in His 
state of exaltation belongs to His divine office, or work. 

Of the mediatorial office of Christ Quenstedt writes: "The 
mediatorial office is the function, belonging to the whole person of 
the God-man and consisting of theanthropic actions, by which 
function Christ in, with, and through both natures perfectly exe- 
cuted, by way of acquisition and application, and is even now 
executing, all things that are necessary for our salvation." (Doctr. 
Theol., p. 338.) More briefly expressed, Christ's mediatorial work 
embraces all that He did to effect our salvation and all that He still 
does to make salvation available to men. 

If the question is asked, Since when did Christ execute His 
mediatorial office? we reply: a) Not only since the time of His 
baptism, which was indeed the solemn induction into His public 
mediatorial ministry, but b) from the very moment of His incarna- 
tion, since His conception, birth, circumcision, filial obedience, etc., 
were accomplished for the salvation of sinful and lost mankind, 
Gal. 4, 4. 5 ; 1 John 3, 8. 

Those who assume that the Son of God became incarnate for 
reasons other than the redemption of mankind (Socinians, Pela- 
gians, Schleiermacher, modern theologians: "Christ came as the 
second Adam to perfect creation") oppose Scripture, which ex- 
pressly teaches that Christ came into the world only to save sinners, 
John 3, 16; 1 Tim. 1, 15; 1 John 4, 9. 10. 

If it is asked why the Xoyog waited four thousand years before 
He became incarnate, we have no other answer in Scripture than 
that it so pleased God, Gal. 4, 4. 5. 

As the Savior of sinful mankind, Christ had to accomplish 
three distinct works: a) He had to teach men the way of sal- 
vation, Luke 4, 18; John 1, 18; Heb. 1, 1; Matt. 17, 5. b) He 
had to reconcile the world unto God, 2 Cor. 5, 18. 19; Matt. 20, 28; 
Rom. 5, 10; 1 John 2, 2. c) He had to rule over the Church as ita 
Head and over all things as the sovereign King of the universe, 
Luke 1, 33 ; Eph. 1, 20—23 ; John 18, 33—37. Hence we speak of 
the threefold office of Christ: a) the prophetic (munus prophe- 
ticum), b) the sacerdotal (munus sacerdotale), and c) the kingly 
(munus regium). As the divine Prophet, Priest, and King the 



Messiah was pictured already in the Old Testament, Deut. 18, 
15—19; Ps. 110; 2,6—12. 

All actions performed by Christ, our Prophet, Priest, and 
King, are theanthropic actions ; in other words, all things necessary 
for our salvation are executed by Christ according to both natures. 

While the three offices were never divided, or separated, in 
Christ, we hold to the classification just given (munus triplex) for 
the sake of greater clearness in presenting Christ's work, though 
some dogmaticians combine the prophetic office with the sacerdotal, 
obtaining in this way only two offices of Christ. 


(De Munere Prophetico.) 


In His state of humiliation Christ did not teach as did the 
prophets of Israel, but as the unique Prophet sent by God (Propheta 
holt' l£o%tjv, Propheta omnibus excellentior , Luke 7, 16 ; John 
4,19; 6,14, that is to say, immediately (avrongoocbncog) and by 
His own authority, John 7, 46 ; 1, 18. Our Lord did not receive His 
divine doctrines by divine inspiration, 2 Pet. 1, 21, but possessed 
them as the omniscient Son of God, Matt. 23, 8. 10; Luke 24, 19; 
4, 32 ; Matt. 7, 29 ; John 6, 63. Nor did He possess His divine 
knowledge merely according to His divine nature; for through 
the personal union (communication of attributes) also His human 
nature participated in the omniscience of His divine nature, Col. 
2, 3. 9. (In Christo igitur Dens ipse munere prophetico fungitur, 
Heb. 1, 2.) Augustine: "Doctor doctorum Christus, cuius schola 
in terra et cathedra in coelo est" 

With respect to the message which Christ proclaimed, Scrip- 
ture declares very plainly that He announced Himself as the divine 
Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil, Matt. 4, 17; 
John 6, 40; 3, 14. 15; Matt. 20, 28; John 6, 51—65. As Paul 
preached Christ and Him Crucified as his central message, 1 Cor* 
2, 2 ; 2 Cor. 4, 5, so our divine Savior centered His entire preach- 
ing in the astounding Gospel-truth of salvation through His vica- 
rious death, Luke 18, 31—34; Matt. 16, 21—23; Mark 8, 27—33. 
Again, as St. Paul proclaimed salvation by grace through faith in 
the crucified and risen Christ, so also Christ Himself published the 
Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Him, Matt. 11,28; 
John 6, 29. 32. 33. 35. 



It is true, our divine Lord, as the Prophet whom God raised 
up like unto Moses, Deut. 18, 15, promulgated also the divine Law, 
Matt. 5 — 7, not, however, a new law (Modernists), but the same 
Moral Law which God had published in the Old Testament, Matt. 
22, 34—40, the fulfilling of which is love, Rom. 13, 10. Even the 
Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5 — 7, was not a new law, but only the 
right explanation of the Moral Law in opposition to the false inter- 
pretations of the scribes. The commandment of love was taught 
so explicitly in the Old Testament, Lev. 19, 18, that the Jews at the 
time of Christ fully understood it, Luke 10, 27. The "new com- 
mandment," John 13, 34, was new only with regard to its peculiar 
application to Christ's followers and the motives with which it was 
enforced (Luther: "new through the new spiritual powers") ; for 
His disciples were to love one another in imitation of their divine 
Master, in whom they believed. 

In opposition to all errorists who affirm that Christ was essen- 
tially a new Lawgiver (Pelagians, Arminians, Semi-Pelagians, 
Modernists, papists: Christ proclaimed as a new law the evan- 
gelical counsels, consilia evangelica: chastity, poverty, and obe- 
dience) the Church declares on the basis of Scripture: "Christ 
was indeed a Teacher of the Law, but not a new Lawgiver." 
( Christus quidem fuit legis doctor, sed non novus legislator.) Yet, 
though Christ preached also the divine Law, the administration of 
His prophetic office consisted properly in His proclamation of the 
Gospel of salvation through faith in His atoning suffering and 
death, John 1, 17. 


In His state of exaltation Christ no longer proclaims the 
Gospel immediately (avTonQoocbncoq), but mediately, through the 
ministerial work of the Church, John 20, 21; Matt. 28, 19. 20; 
Mark 16, 15. 16; 2 Cor. 13, 2. 3; 2 Tim. 1, 9— 11. Nevertheless 
also in His state of exaltation He remains the true Prophet and 
Teacher of His Church, Col. 3, 16; Eph. 4, 10—12, so that His 
Word alone should be preached to men, John 8, 31. 32; 1 Pet. 
4, 11 ; 1 Tim. 6, 3 — 5. All who preach their own wisdom in place 
of God's Word are not Christian ministers, but false prophets 
(dvzlxQioToi), whom believers should avoid, Matt. 15, 7 — 9; 7,15; 
Kom. 16, 17. 18 ; 1 John 2, 18. Dr. A. Strong rightly says : "All 
modern prophecy that is true is but the republication of Christ's 
message, the proclamation and expounding of truth already re- 



vealed in Scripture." (Syst. Theol, p. 389.) Of all false prophets 
the Pope at Rome is the most insidious and pernicious, since he 
perverts the Word of God and opposes the prophetic office of Christ 
under the pretense that he is the viceregent and vicar of the ex- 
alted Lord. For this reason he is the Antichrist {avxixQtoxog xar' 
#<W), 2 Thess. 2, 3ff. 

Also in the Old Testament the Son of God, or the preexistent 
Adyoc, was the true Teacher and Prophet of the Church; for it was 
He who conversed with the saints of old and revealed to them the 
truth of salvation. This important fact Scripture teaches by de- 
claring a) that it was the Spirit of Christ that inspired the prophets 
who prophesied of the grace that should come, 1 Pet. 1, 10 — 12, 
and b) that it was the Son of God who revealed to Israel the saving 
truths of God, John 12,41; cp. Is. 6,1 f. ; 1 Cor. 10, 4. Luther: 
"Almost in all places in the Old Testament Christ is revealed to 
us under the name of God." (St, L., II, 853.) 


(De Munere Sacerdotal!.) 

The grace of God which Christ proclaimed as the divine 
Prophet He Himself secured as the divine Priest of men. Hence 
those who deny, or pervert the Biblical doctrine of, the sacerdotal 
office of our Savior, must deny and pervert also His prophetic office. 
Rationalists of every type who reject the vicarious atonement of 
Christ (satisf actio vicaria) cannot regard Him as the true Prophet 
of grace and forgiveness, but must consider Him merely a Teacher 
of morality, who came into the world to induce men to secure sal- 
vation by their own works and righteousness. In short, if Christ 
is not the divine Priest, neither is He the divine Prophet in the 
Biblical sense. 

The sacerdotal office of Christ, who is called Priest (dHi^> f.ia, 
iegevg /ueyag } Aqxisqevs) both in the Old and in the New Testa- 
ment (Ps.110,4; Zech.6,13; Heb.5,6; 8,4; 10,21; etc.), is 
that work of the God-man by which He reconciled the world unto 
God, 2 Cor. 5, 19. Holy Scripture describes both the manner 
(modus reconciliationis) and the means (medium reconciliationis) 
by which this gracious work was accomplished. Its consistent testi- 
mony is that Christ offered Himself, or laid down His life, as 
a ransom for the sins of the world, John 17, 19; 1 Tim. 2, 6; 
1 John 2, 2 ; John 1, 29. 

To the sacerdotal office of Christ belongs also His intercession, 




which will be considered later. A complete definition of Christ's 
sacerdotal office is given by Quenstedt, who writes: "The priestly 
office of Christ is composed of two parts, satisfaction and inter- 
cession. For, in the first place, He made an absolutely perfect 
satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world and earned salvation. 
In the second place, He anxiously interceded, and still intercedes 
and mediates, on behalf of all, for the application of the acquired 
salvation. That the Messiah would perform these functions of 
a priest is clearly predicted, Is. 53, 12." (Doctr. Theol., p. 347.) 

In particular, the purchase-price for our sins (pretium, Xvtqov} 
was Christ's blood shed on Calvary, 1 John 1, 7; Heb. 10, 29; 
13, 20. Of this Luther writes : "The blood which flowed from the 
side of our Lord Jesus is the treasure of our redemption, the pay- 
ment and atonement for our sins. For through His innocent suf- 
fering and death and through His holy and precious blood, shed 
upon the cross, our dear Lord Jesus Christ paid our entire debt 
of eternal death and damnation, in which we all are because of 
our sins. The same blood of Christ intercedes for us before God 
and cries to God without ceasing : Grace ! Grace ! Forgive ! Forgive T 
Indulgence ! Indulgence ! Father ! Father ! and secures for us divine 
grace, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and salvation. Thus the- 
blood of Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate, cries for- 
ever and ever without ceasing, so that God the Father regards 
such crying and interceding of His beloved Son and is gracious to 
us poor, miserable sinners, Zech. 9, 11." (Expl. of John 19, 34; 
St. L., VIII, 965 ff.) 

In the Old Testament the priests offered lambs and goats for 
the sins of the people, Heb. 10, 4; Christ, however, the great High 
Priest, Heb. 7, 26. 27, sacrificed Himself, He being both Priest and 
Sacrifice in one person, Heb. 9, 12 — 14; Eph. 5, 2. (Christns 
semetipsum saerificavit.) This is the golden theme of the whole 
Bible : the astounding message of reconciliation {Ikao/Aog) through 
the holy blood of the divine Victim Jesus Christ, Acts 10, 43 ; Luke- 
24, 25—27. 

Christ executed His sacerdotal office by rendering perfect obe- 
dience to His Father, who out of pure love offered up His only- 
begotten Son for the redemption of the world, John 3, 16; 1, 29. 
Scripture accordingly describes Christ's redemptive work as obe- 
dience to God (obedientia). The vicarious obedience of Christ 
comprises: a) His active obedience (obedientia activa), by which 
our divine Substitute placed Himself under the obligation of the- 



divine Law, fulfilling it in our stead by His perfectly holy life, 
Gal. 4, 4. 5 ; Rom. 5, 19 ; Matt. 3, 15, and b) His passive obedience 
(obedientia passiva), by which He placed Himself under the curse 
of the Law and suffered and died for the sins of the world, Heb. 
9, 12; Eph. 5, 2; Is. 53, 4—6. Thus by His holy life and His 
innocent death Christ secured for us that divine merit (meritum 
Christi) which is our righteousness before God unto salvation, 
Eom. 3, 22—25 ; 2 Cor. 5, 19—21. 

The prepositions &vu, vnig (Matt. 20, 28; 2 Cor. 5, 14), 
translated in our Authorized Version with "for," do not merely 
mean "for the benefit of ," but rather : "in place of ." They express 
the fact that Christ suffered and died in our stead, or as our true 
Substitute. Luther rightly says : "Christ suffered death, maledic- 
tion, and damnation, just as if He Himself had broken the whole 
Law and deserved every sentence pronounced by the Law on 
criminals." (St. L., XII, 236.) 

Since Christ by His most perfect obedience has paid the 
penalty of our sin and expiated our guilt, He has freed us also 
from the dreadful consequences which sin, both original and actual, 
has brought upon us, such as a) death, 2 Tim. 1, 10; b) the power 
of the devil, Heb. 2, 14; c) the dominion of sin, Titus 2, 14; etc. 
All these infinite spiritual blessings are comprised in the expression 
"the redemption of the human race," which Hollaz defines as "the 
spiritual, judicial, and most costly deliverance of all men, bound 
in the chains of sin, from guilt, from the wrath of God, and from 
temporal and eternal punishment, accomplished by Christ, the God- 
man, through His active and passive obedience, which God, the 
most righteous Judge, graciously received as a most perfect ransom 
(Xvtqov), so that the human race, introduced into spiritual liberty, 
may live forever with God." (Doctr. Theol., p. 346.) 

Objections to the Scriptural doctrine of the redemption of lost 
mankind through the perfect obedience of Christ (active and pas- 
sive) have always been raised by the proud, self-righteous carnal 
heart of man, 1 Cor. 1, 23. While some critics denied the necessity 
and validity of Christ's active obedience ("As a man Christ obeyed 
the divine Law for His own good"; Anselm, Aepinus), others 
violently attacked the necessity and validity of His passive obe- 
dience (Rationalism, Unitarianism, Modernism). In the interest 
of denying Christ's vicarious satisfaction it has been claimed: 
a) that the term redemption (djcoXvrQoyaig) means simply liberation 
and not the purchasing of sinners by the payment of an adequate 



ransom; b) that the idea of satisfaction conflicts with the gratu- 
itous remission of sins; c) that God cannot transfer the crime 
of one to another and punish an innocent Substitute for guilty 
man, etc. 

All these objections contradict the clear doctrines of Scripture, 
which teaches: a) that Christ's redemption was indeed effected 
by the payment of the price of His blood, 1 Cor. 6, 20 ; 1 Pet. 1, 
18. 19 ; Gal. 3, 13 ; Eph. 1, 7 ; Titus 2, 14 ; Heb. 9, 12. 15 ; Rev. 
5,9; b) that the mercy of God in remitting sin is indeed gratu- 
itous in the sense that no satisfaction is required of us; but it is 
not gratuitous absolutely, since it required the satisfaction of 
Christ, Rom. 3, 24; Eph. 1, 7; and c) that God indeed transferred 
the sins of man upon Christ and punished Him in our stead, 
Is. 53, 4—6 ; John 1, 29 ; Gal. 3, 13. 

Gerhard very exhaustively classifies the Scriptural statements 
which describe Christ's sacerdotal work and in particular His vica- 
rious satisfaction as follows: a) Christ is our Mediator, 1 Tim. 
2, 5; Heb. 8, 6; 9, 15 ; 12, 24; b) Christ is our Redeemer, Is. 53, 
4^6; Luke 1, 68; Rom. 3, 24; 1 Cor. 1, 30; Eph. 1, 7; Col. 
1,14; 1 Tim. 2,6; Heb. 9, 12. 15; c) Christ is the Propitiation 
(IXaofiog) for our sins, 1 John 2,2; 4,10; Rom. 3, 24. 25; d) by 
Him we are reconciled to God, Rom. 5, 10. 11; 2 Cor. 5, 18. 19; 
Eph. 2, 16; Col. 1, 20; e) Christ gave His life as Xvrgov xal 
dvxiUvTQov for us, Matt. 20, 28; Mark 10, 45; Titus 2, 14; 1 Pet. 
1, 18. 19; Heb. 9, 15 ; f ) Christ was made sin for us, 2 Cor. 5, 21 ; 
Rom. 8, 3; g) Christ became a curse for us, Gal. 3, 13; h) Christ 
took upon Himself our sins and their punishment, Is. 53, 4 — 6 ; 
John 1,29; 1 Pet. 2, 24; i) Christ shed His blood for our sins, 
Matt. 26,28; 1 John 1,7; Heb. 9, 12; j) Christ blotted out the 
indictment against us, Col. 2, 14; k) Christ freed us from the curse 
of the Law, Gal. 3, 13; 4, 5; 1) Christ freed us from the wrath of 
God, 1 Thess. 1, 10 ; m) Christ freed us from eternal condemna- 
tion, 1 Thess. 5, 9. 10; n) in Christ we are righteous and beloved, 
2 Cor. 5, 21. (Doctr. Theol., p. 357.) 

Hence, if any one denies the vicarious satisfaction which 
Christ, as the divinely appointed High Priest, made for the sins 
of the world, he denies the very heart of the Biblical message of 
redemption. Remove from the Bible the atoning work of Christ, 
and nothing of the Gospel is left. It is for this reason that Christ's 
sacerdotal office constitutes the very core of Christian theology. 




(Satisfactio Vicaria.) 

The Scriptural doctrine of Christ's redemption made for all 
men is known in ecclesiastical terminology as His vicarious satis- 
faction (satisfactio vicaria), or vicarious atonement (stellvertre- 
tende Qenugtuung). Synonyms of this term used in Scripture 
are: propitiation (IXaofios, 1 John 2, 2) ; mercy-seat (JXaoxrjQiov , 
Horn. 3, 25) ; reconciliation (xaraXXayfj, Rom. 5, 10; 2 Cor. 5, 18) ; 
redemption (dnoXvTQcooig^ Eph. 1, 7; Col. 1, 14) ; ransom (Xvtqov, 
Matt. 20, 28), all of which declare that the redemption of Christ 
was made by the payment of an adequate price for the captives. 

The term vicarious satisfaction in particular is used to express 
the following truths: a) God, according to His perfect justice 
(iustitia legislatoria, normativa), demands of all men perfect obe- 
dience to His Law, and His wrath is upon all (iustitia vindicativa) 
who do not fulfil it, Gal. 3, 10; b) Christ, by His perfect (active 
and passive) obedience, has satisfied the demands of divine justice 
in man's stead, Gal. 4, 4. 5 ; 3, 13 ; 1 Pet. 3, 18, and has thus turned 
the wrath of God into grace, or favor, Rom. 5, 10; c) through 
Christ's satisfaction all men were reconciled unto God, 2 Cor. 5, 
18 — 21; that is to say, God is no longer angry with sinners and 
no longer imputes to them their transgressions, but has graciously 
forgiven them all their sins, Rom. 5, 10. 18. 19. 

The Formula of Concord thus emphasizes this comforting doc- 
trine: "Since it is the obedience, as above mentioned, ... of the 
entire person, it is a complete satisfaction and expiation for the 
human race, by which the eternal, immutable righteousness of God, 
revealed in the Law, has been satisfied and is thus our righteous- 
ness, which avails before God and is revealed in the Gospel and 
upon which faith relies before God, which God imputes to faith, as 
it is written, Rom. 5, 19; 1 John 1, 7; Hab. 2, 4; Rom. 1, 17." 
(Thor. Decl., Ill, 57.) So also the Apology says: "The Law con- 
demns all men; but Christ, because without sin He has borne the 
punishment of sin and has been made a victim for us, has removed 
that right of the Law to accuse and condemn those who believe in 
Him, because He Himself is the Propitiation for them, for whose 
sake we now are accounted righteous. But since they are accounted 
righteous, the Law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though 
they have not actually satisfied the Law." (Art. Ill, 58.) 




(Beconciliatio Obiectiva, Subiectiva.) 

The reconciliation which Christ effected through His vicarious 
suffering and death is fittingly called objective reconciliation. This 
was accomplished over nineteen centuries ago when our divine Sub- 
stitute died on Calvary, 2 Cor. 5, 18. 19; Rom. 5, 10. For then the 
demands of divine justice were fully satisfied, God's wrath was 
turned into grace, and universal pardon was proclaimed to all 
sinners, John 19, 30; Rom. 5, 16. 18. 19. Reconciliation (justifi- 
cation) was thus secured without any work or merit on the part 
of sinful man, just as creation was accomplished without man's 
cooperation. Objective reconciliation is therefore not brought about 
through man's faith, but rather, just because it exists, man can 
now be justified by faith. 

The objective reconciliation which Christ effected through His 
death was publicly proclaimed and offered to the world by God 
through Christ's glorious resurrection ; for this is the actual abso- 
lution, or justification, of the whole world, Rom* 4, 25. The ob- 
jective reconciliation, or justification, of the whole world is more- 
over announced to all sinners in the Gospel, for which reason the 
Gospel is called the Word of Reconciliation (Xoyog rrjg xaxaklayr\g) y 
2 Cor. 5, 19. Luther : "The Gospel is a proclamation of Christ, 
true God and man, who by His death and resurrection has atoned 
for the sins of all men and conquered death and the devil." (St. L., 
XIV, 88.) 

The objective reconciliation of Christ, or the absolution or 
justification of the whole sinful world, is appropriated by the indi- 
vidual believer through faith in the Gospel promises of forgiveness 
and thus becomes subjective reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5, 20. That is to 
say, the individual sinner obtains for himself through faith the 
forgiveness -which Christ has secured for all men by His suffering 
and death. Saving, or justifying, faith may therefore be defined 
as a penitent sinner's personal trust in the reconciliation effected 
for the entire world. Saving faith does not justify inasmuch as 
in itself it reconciles God, but inasmuch as it seizes and obtains 
the reconciliation which already exists and is freely offered in the 
Gospel to all sinners. The Apology says : "Faith properly so called 
is that which assents to the promise/' (Art. IV [II], 113.) And 
the Formula of Concord: "Faith does not justify because it is so 
good a work, so illustrious a virtue, but because it apprehends and 



embraces the merits of Christ in the promise of the Gospel." 
(Thor. Decl., Ill, 13.) 

The distinction between objective and subjective reconciliation 
(justification) must be diligently observed; for all who reject the 
objective reconciliation of Christ cannot teach justification by grace 
through faith without the deeds of the Law. As soon as the Scrip- 
tural truth that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto 
Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," 2 Cor. 5, 19, is 
denied, the doctrine of salvation by work-righteousness must follow 
(Arminianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Modernism), since in that case 
the sinner must himself reconcile God by his good works. From 
beginning to end the entire comfort of sinners longing for salva- 
tion rests upon the objective reconciliation which Christ has made 
on Calvary. Their own subjective reconciliation, or justification, 
is but the blessed fruit of that amazing deed of love. 


The vicarious satisfaction of Christ is repudiated by all who 
deny the condemning wrath of God (iustitia Dei vindicativa) ; for 
if God had not been angry at man's sin, there would have been no 
need for the atoning death of our Savior. (Cf. the antichristian 
views of the Unitarians, Modernists, Eitschl, Harnack, etc.) The 
objections of all rationalists to the Gospel fact of redemption ("God 
could forgive sin without the death of Christ by a mere fiat of 
His sovereign will"; "It is an unworthy conception of God to re- 
gard Him as so angry over sin that Christ had to die for sinful 
man"; "Christ died merely to reveal God's love to man"; "It 
would be an act of injustice for God to punish the sinless Savior 
for sinful man" ; "The idea of God's reconciliation through Christ's 
vicarious atonement is unethical or too juridical") are all refuted 
by passages of Scripture which affirm the very truths that are 
denied by these objectors on rationalistic grounds, Is. 53, 4 — 6 ; 
2 Cor. 5, 18 — 21. Among the errors by which Christ's vicarious 
atonement is rejected, either in its entirety or in part, we enumerate 
the following: — 

a. The error of acceptilation (acceptilatio). Christ's vicarious 
satisfaction was not sufficient in itself, but was accepted as such by 
God's sovereign volition (per liberam [gratuitam~\ acceptationem ; 
Duns Scotus, Calvin, Arminians). Cp. Heb. 9, 11 — 14; 1 John 
1,7; Acts 20,28; 2 Cor. 5, 18— 21. 



b. The error of work-righteousness as taught in varying forms 
and degrees by Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Arminians, synergists, 
Modernists, etc. — If man can either in whole or in part secure 
reconciliation by his good works, it would not have been necessary 
for the Son of God to become man and suffer and die in his stead. 
Cp. Gal. 3, 10—13; Eom. 8, 3. 4; etc. Quenstedt: "Filius Dei 
non venisset nec humanam naturam assumpsisset, si homo in statu 
integritatis perstitisset." 

c. The error of denying the active obedience of Christ (An- 
selm, Parsimonius, modern theologians). If Christ had not ful- 
filled the Law in our stead, we ourselves would have to fulfil it and 
thus earn salvation, at least in part. Cp. Gal. 4, 4. 5 ; Eom. 5, 18. 

d. The error that Christ by His suffering and death paid the 
ransom-price to Satan (Origen). x\ccording to Scripture, Christ 
indeed has given Himself an offering and a sacrifice, but to God, 
to satisfy the claims of His perfect justice (iustitia Dei legislatorial 
et vindicativa) . Cp. Eph. 5, 2; 2 Cor. 5, 18 — 21. 

e. The error that Christ made satisfaction only for the sins 
of the elect (Calvinists). Cp. 2 Cor. 5, 18—21; 1 John 2, 2; 
1 Tim. 2, 6. 

f. The errors implied in the various theories regarding Christ's 
death which rationalists substitute for the Scriptural doctrine of 
the vicarious atonement. 1) The Accident Theory, Christ's death 
was an accident as unforeseen and unexpected as the death of any 
other martyr (Modernists). Cp. Matt. 16, 21; Mark 9, 30—32; 
John 10, 17. 18, etc. 2) The Martyr Theory. Christ gave up His 
life for a principle of truth as any other martyr (Modernists), 
Cp. 1 Tim. 2, 6; 1 John 2, 2. 3) The MorcU-example Theory 
(moral-influence theory, moral-power view of atonement). Christ's 
death has an influence upon mankind for moral improvement. The 
example of His suffering softens human hearts and helps man to 
reform, repent, and better his condition (transformation of char- 
acter, Horace Bushnell). Cp. Rom. 5, 12 — 18; 1 John 1, 7. 
4) The Governmental Theory. God made an example of suffering 
in Christ in order to exhibit to man that sin is displeasing in His 
sight ; or : God's government of the world makes it necessary for 
Him to 6how His wrath against sin (Hugo Grotius; New England 
Theology). 5) The Declaratory Theory. Christ died to show men 
how much God loves them (Ritschl). While the death of Christ 
indeed exhibits the great love of God for fallen man, the purpose 
of His death was primarily to redeem lost mankind, John 3, 16 ; 



1 John 4, 10. 6) The Guaranty Theory. Reconciliation is based, 
not on Christ's expiation for sin, but on His guaranty to win 
followers and conquer their sinfulness (Schleiermacher, Kirn, 

All these man-made theories of the atonement deny Christ's 
vicarious satisfaction and are based on the same leading thought: 
salvation by works, or salvation through personal sanctification. 

g. The error of restitution (anoxazdozaoig). Christ died also 
for the fallen angels, so that they, too, will be restored to holi- 
ness and perfection in the consummation of all things. Cp. Matt. 
25, 41. 46. 

h. The error involved in the papistic Mass, which purports to 
be the "unbloody repetition of the sacrifice of Christ, necessary 
for propitiation/' We reject the Mass as a blasphemous denial of 
the efficacy of Christ's one complete and perfect redemption, Heb. 
7,26.27; 9,12; 10,14; John 19,30. 


The sacerdotal office of Christ embraces two parts: a) satis- 
faction and b) intercession. 

Already in His state of humiliation Christ interceded for men 
(intercessio terrestris), John 14, 16; 17,9; Heb. 5, 6 — 10. From 
the nature of Christ's intercessions these are divided into two 
classes: a) general intercessions (intercessio generalis), Luke 
23, 34, which were made for men in general; and b) special inter- 
cessions (intercessio specialis), John 17, 9ff., which were offered up 
for believers. 

However, Christ remains a Priest also after His exaltation, 
Heb. 7, 24. 25, and in this state He administers His priestly office, 
not by repeating His atoning work, Rom. 6, 9. 10; Heb. 9, 12 — 15; 
7, 26. 27, but by interceding for the elect of God (intercessio 
coelestis). This perpetual intercession of the exalted Christ has 
no atoning value (intercessio Christi in statu exaltationis non est 
satisfactoria), but merely applicative value (intercessio Christi in 
statu exaltationis est applicatoria), Heb. 7, 24. 25; 1 John 2, 1; 
Rom. 8, 34 ; that is to say, it relates to the gathering and preserva- 
tion of the Church, or to the salvation of the elect (Christus est 
Mediator reconciliationis), Rom. 8, 34; Heb. 7, 25; 1 John 2, 1. 

According to Scripture the heavenly intercession of our glori- 
fied Mediator is both real (intercessio realis), that is, He presents 
to the Father perpetually the holy blood which He shed for the sins 



of the world (Chemnitz: Ostendit vultui Dei, quae stigmata pro 
redemptione nostra accepit, Heb. 9, 12), and verbal (intercessio 
verbalis), that is, He actually prays for men, Heb. 7, 25; Rom. 
8, 34; 1 John 2, 1, though this must be understood in a manner 
becoming the exalted Lord, who sits at the right hand of God 
( intercessio incomprehensibilis ) , 

In contradistinction to the intercession of the Holy Spirit 
(intercessio Spiritus Sancti), Rom. 8, 26. 27, the exalted Christ 
intercedes as the God-man (intercessio deardgixri) and on the basis 
of His own merits (merito ipsius inter cessoris), while the inter- 
cession of the Holy Spirit (intercessio deixrj, Rom. 8, 27, "accord- 
ing to the will of God," xaxa &eov) rests on the ground of Christ's 
redemption (merito alterius), Gal. 4, 4 — 6. 

The constant intercession of the exalted Savior at the right 
hand of God gives the believer the most certain assurance of his 
final salvation, Rom. 8, 34 — 39. 

The Unitarians (Modernists) deny Christ's vicarious satis- 
faction and therefore reject Christ's intercession, which is based 
upon His atonement. According to the Unitarian view, Christ's 
only function as priest is to inspire men by precept and example 
to become their own saviors. The papists supplement Christ's 
intercessory work with the intercessions and merit of the saints and 
thus deny the Scriptural truth that Christ is the only Mediator 
between God and man, 1 Tim. 2, 5. 6. 


(De Munere Regio.) 

The kingly office of Christ is described in all those passages 
of Holy Scripture in which it is said that to Him in time universal 
dominion has been communicated, Eph. 1, 20 — 23; Matt. 11, 27; 
28, 18 ; Ps. 2, 6. 8 ; 8, 6 ; 1 Cor. 15, 27 ; etc. The universal char- 
acter of Christ's rule is emphatically stated in Scripture; for it 
teaches very clearly that the dominion of the Son of Man extends 
a) to all nations and peoples, Dan. 7, 13. 14; b) to all things on 
earth, in the air, and in the sea, Ps. 8, 6 — 8 ; and c) even to the 
enemies of Christ, Ps. 110, 2. In short, from the glorious reign of 
Christ nothing is excluded except God Himself, 1 Cor. 15, 27. 
Hence the kingly office of Christ has been very aptly defined as 
"the theanthropic function of Christ whereby He divinely controls 
and governs, according to both natures, the divine and the human 
(the latter as exalted to the right hand of majesty), all creatures 



whatever in the kingdoms of power, grace, and glory by infinite 
majesty and power" (Quenstedt). 

Also in His state of humiliation Christ was a true King, pos- 
sessing and exercising divine power, not only according to His 
divine nature (essentially), but also according to His human nature 
(by way of communication), as was shown in the article on the 
second genus of the communication of attributes (genus maiesta- 
ticum). To the incarnate Christ, Scripture ascribes government, 
Is. 9, 6, kingship, John 18, 37, divine power, Matt. 28, 18, etc., in 
an absolute degree, that is to say, in the same manner as to God 
Himself. But the full and constant use of the divine dominion 
communicated to the human nature was not exercised by our Savior 
until His exaltation at the right hand of God, Eph. 1, 20 — 23; 
4,10; Phil. 2, 9— 11. 

On the basis of clear Scripture-passages our dogmaticians 
speak of Christ's threefold kingdom, of power, of grace, and of 
glory. However, this threefold division must not be understood 
as if there were three separate kingdoms over which our Lord rules. 
In reality the dominion of Christ is one, though it exerts itself in 
•different spheres, according to the different character of those who 
are governed. (Pro diversa ratione eorum, quos rex Christus sibi 
subiectos respicit et diversimode gubernat. Baier.) Thus Christ 
rules over all unbelievers, apostate angels, and irrational creatures 
by means of His omnipotent power (regnum potentiae), Ps. 2, 9f. ; 
45, 5 ; 8, 6—8 ; 97, 7. 10 ; 1 Tim. 6, 14—16 ; Rev. 17, 14. 

In a general way all creatures as such belong to Christ's 
Kingdom of Power because the regnum potentiae is essentially the 
realm of nature (regnum naturae). 

All who in true faith have accepted Christ's Gospel of recon- 
ciliation, 1 Cor. 15, 1, He most graciously rules through His re- 
vealed Word (regnum gratiae), John 8,31.32. To the Kingdom 
of Grace belong only those who have been justified by faith or 
who by faith are true members of the Christian Church on earth 
(ecclesia militans), the latter term being a synonym of the former, 
Rom. 5, 1. 2 ; Acts 5, 14. While Satan works in all unbelievers as 
in "children of disobedience/' Eph. 2, 2, the exalted Christ exercises 
His gracious dominion in all who by faith acknowledge Him as 
their Lord, John 14, 23. 

All true believers, who in this life were subject to Christ in 
His Kingdom of Grace, will forever be His subjects in the Kingdom 
of Glory (regnum gloriae), which is the continuation of the King- 



dom of Grace in perfection, Acts 7, 55. 56; 1 Pet. 5, 4; 1 John 3, 2. 
Then the adherents of the Church Militant ( membra ecclesiae mili- 
tantis), Eom. 8, 17, will be members of the Church Triumphant 
(membra ecclesiae triumphantis), Rom. 5, 2; John 17, 24. To 
point out the inestimable blessings of Christ's Kingdom of Grace 
and the ineffable bliss of His Kingdom of Glory is the real burden 
of Christian preaching, the purpose of which is not only to make 
sinners partakers of eternal life, but also to fill them with an 
ardent longing for heaven, 1 Cor. 1,7; Rom. 8, 23; Titus 2,13; 
2 Pet. 3, 13; Phil. 3, 20. 

In this world the Kingdom of Power serves the Kingdom of 
Grace, Matt. 28, 18; Rom. 8, 28; for in both kingdoms the same 
Lord governs all things to His glory, Eph. 1, 20 — 23, with the same 
almighty power, Eph. 1, 19 ; 1 Pet. 1, 5, sustaining the present 
world for the sake of His elect, Matt. 24, 22 ; 2 Pet. 3, 9, and pro- 
tecting His Church Militant against all attacks of the gates of hell, 
Matt. 16, 18. 

While the dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ is one, yet His 
Kingdom of Grace must not be confounded with His Kingdom of 
Power. Christ Himself thus distinguishes His Kingdom of Grace 
from the kingdoms of this world, John 18, 36. Although the King- 
dom of Grace (the Church) is in the world, it is not of this world, 
1 John 2, 5; John 17, 16. The world is only the domicile of the 
Kingdom of Grace, John 17, 11. 15; 1 Tim. 2, 1 — 4, which is not 
built and maintained after the manner of earthly kingdoms, Mark 
16, 15. 16. The kingdoms of this world are formed and preserved 
through the divine institution of civil government, Rom. 13, 1 — 4, 
while the Kingdom of Grace is founded and sustained alone 
through the means of grace (the Word and the Sacraments), 
Matt. 28, 19. 20. 

But not only must the Kingdom of Grace be distinguished 
from the Kingdom of Power, but Scripture likewise distinguishes 
it from the Kingdom of Glory, 1 John 3, 2 ; Rom. 8, 24. 25, though 
formally the two cannot be separated, John 5, 24 ; 3, 36 ; Col. 3, 
2 — 4 ; Gal. 4, 26. They agree in having the same Lord and the 
same blessings of divine grace, but differ a) with respect to the 
mode of perceiving divine things; for while in the Kingdom of 
Grace all divine knowledge is mediate, that is, is obtained through 
faith in the Word (cognitio abstractiva) , John 8, 31. 32, in the 
, Kingdom of Glory it is immediate, that is, it is received through 
beatific vision (cognitio intuitiva), 1 Cor. 13, 12; and b) with 



respect to the different external conditions of the members of the 
two kingdoms; for while the condition of the Church Militant is 
one of distress and tribulation, Acts 14, 22, that of the Church 
Triumphant is one of supreme glory, Kev. 7, 17 ; 21, 3. 4. 

The doctrine of Christ's kingly office is an article of faith; 
that is to say, on the basis of Scripture we believe that Christ rules 
most gloriously in His kingdoms of power, grace, and glory. In 
the Kingdom of Power we indeed see the objects of Christ's reign, 
but not Christ's ruling scepter, Heb. 2, 8. Indeed, quite frequently 
it appears as if Satan were ruling this world, and not God. In 
Christ's Kingdom of Grace the means indeed are perceptible, for 
we hear the Gospel and see the external Sacraments ; yet the king- 
dom itself is invisible to us, since it is internal, or in the hearts 
of men, Luke 17, 20. 21; 1 Pet. 2, 5. But in spite of the opposi- 
tion of the devil, Matt. 16, 18, of false teachers, 2 Tim. 2, 17—19, 
and of the world, John 16, 33, we believe that the Christian Church, 
or the Kingdom of Grace, will exist on earth till the end of time, 
Matt. 28, 20. The Kingdom of Glory, which will be revealed in 
the Lord's own appointed time, Acts 1, 7, is, however, always the 
object of the Christian's fondest hope, 1 John 3, 2; Rom. 5, 2; 
8, 24. 25, and for its coming he continually waits and ardently 
prays, Phil. 3, 20. 


With respect to the kingly office of Christ all those err from 
the divine truth who deny the Scriptural doctrine concerning His 
divine person and His divine work. Of the many errorists we 
mention the following : — 

a. The papists and Reformed, who separate the human nature 
from the divine nature by denying the communication of attri- 
butes and consider Christ to be King only according to His divine 
nature, Matt. 28, 18 ; 11, 27 ; Phil. 2, 9—11 ; etc. 

b. The modern kenoticists, who deny the divine kingship of 
Christ in His state of humiliation and claim that Christ, when 
becoming incarnate, completely emptied Himself (ixevcooev) of the 
divine attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. 
In that case Christ could not be King even according to His 
divine nature, Col. 2, 3. 9; John 1, 14. 

c. The Subordinationists, who deny that Christ according to 
His divine nature is consubstantial (6/uoovoiog) with the Father and 
hence exclude Him from the eternal divine reign, whereas Scrip- 



ture ascribes to Him an everlasting dominion, Luke 1, 33 ; Eph. 
1, 21. — The subjection of which St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 15, 
27. 28 refers to the change of Christ's present mode of rule, which 
is mediate and hidden, into a mode of rule which is immediate, 
revealed, and common to Christ together with the Father and the 
Holy Ghost. 

d. All who reject Christ's rule in His Church by substituting 
human doctrine and ordinances for Christ's Word and ordinances, 
Matt. 23, 8; 15, 9, as, for example, all false prophets, 1 John 2, 18, 
and, above all, the Papacy, 2 Thess. 2, 4, or the Antichrist. 

e. All who intermingle the regnum naturae and the regnum 
gratiae, or State and Church (papists, Reformed, and other en- 

f. All chiliasts, or millenarians, who teach the establishment 
by Christ of a dominion which is neither a Kingdom of Grace nor 
a Kingdom of Glory, but a caricature of both, namely, a reign of 
thousand years in duration, which will either precede or follow 
His second advent (premillenarians; postmillenarians). We re- 
ject the figment of millennialism, because, contrary to Scripture, 
it a) changes Christ's spiritual kingdom into a visible, or earthly, 
kingdom and b) directs the hope of all Christians, not to the per- 
fect glory of heaven, 1 Cor. 1, 7 ; Phil. 3, 20. 21 ; John 17, 24, but 
to a future earthly glory, which Scripture clearly repudiates, Matt. 
24, 1—42. 

g. All Modernists, who deny Christ's vicarious atonement ; for 
if Christ is not the great High Priest, He is neither the glori- 
fied and exalted King of heaven and earth. The Christ of Mod- 
ernism is a mere man, who could never rule with power at God's 
right hand. 

h. All advocates of work-righteousness (papists, Arminians, 
etc.) ; for all who endeavor to be justified by the Law are fallen 
from grace, Gal. 5, 4, and hence cannot acknowledge Christ as their 
gracious and glorious King. Those who reject Christ's regnum 
gratiae must likewise reject His regnum gloriae. Luther: "AH 
who do not have Christ for their King and are not adorned with- 
His righteousness are, and forever will be, in the kingdom of the 
devil, in sin and in death." (St. L., V, 148.) 





The purpose of the doctrine of soteriology is to show how 
the Holy Spirit applies to the individual sinner the blessed salva- 
tion which Christ has secured for all mankind by His vicarious 
atonement. The subject is treated under various heads: The 
Appropriation of Salvation, Applicatio Salutis a Christo Acqui- 
sitae; The Appropriating Grace of the Holy Spirit, Qratia Spiritus 
Sancti Applicatrix; The Way of Salvation, Via Salutis, Ratio Con- 
sequent Salutem; The Order of Salvation, Ordo Salutis, etc. In 
German the following terminology is used: Die Heilsaneignung; 
Der Heilsweg; Die Heilsordnung; Die aneignende Gnade des 
Heiligen Geistes, etc. 

A general survey of the doctrine of soteriology embraces the 
following truths. The salvation, or forgiveness of sins, which 
Christ has procured for all men by His vicarious atonement, Luke 
1, 77; Eom. 5, 10; 2 Cor. 5, 19, is offered to the sinner in the 
means of grace, that is to say, in the Gospel and the Sacraments, 
2 Cor. 5, 19; Luke 24,47. Through this most gracious and effi- 
cacious offer of forgiveness, faith is wrought in the heart of the 
sinner, Rom. 10, 17, which accepts, or appropriates, the merits of 
Christ proffered in the means of grace. 

The means of grace thus perform a twofold function: they 
offer and confer forgiveness (media oblativa sive dativa), and they 
produce faith (media operativa sive effectiva). Media dativa ex 
parte Dei gignunt fidem sive medium Xt]7inx6v ex parte hominis. 

By creating faith in the heart of the sinner through His 
almighty power, 1 Cor. 2, 14; Eph. 1, 19. 20, the Holy Spirit con- 
verts and justifies him, Acts 16, 31; Rom. 5, If. Now the sinner 
no longer flees from God, but turns to Him as to His reconciled, 
gracious Lord, Acts 11,21. 

As soon as the sinner by faith accepts God's general pardon,, 
or the objective justification, the pardon becomes effective in his 
case, and he is personally justified (subjective justification). By 
accepting Christ's righteousness, he has made it his own and i& 
therefore regarded as righteous before God, Rom. 4, 3; Ps. 32, 1. 2. 

Justification (a forensic, not a medical act) is thus by grace 
alone, without works, Rom. 3, 28. It puts the believer in posses- 
sion of all the merits or blessings secured by Christ's perfect obe- 
dience. The justified sinner has entered into the state of grace 
and peace (status gratiae, status patis), in which he is assured 



of his present and final salvation, Bom. 5, 1 — 6, his final salva- 
tion being guaranteed by God's grace and truth, Rom. 5, 1 — 11 ; 
8, 38. 39 ; 1 Cor. 1, 8. 9. lustificatio est res gratis promissa propter 
Christum, quare sola fide semper coram Deo accipitur. (Apology, 
Art. Ill, 96.) 

Justification effects the mystical union (unio mystica), by 
which the Holy Trinity, in particular the Holy Spirit, dwells in the 
believer, Gal. 3,2; Eph. 3, 17; John 14,23; 1 Cor. 3, 16; 6,19. 
The unio mystica is a peculiar indwelling, which is distinct from 
God's general presence with all creatures (unio generalis), since 
God dwells essentially in the believer. Yet it is not a pantheistic 
transformation of the essence of the believer into the essence of 
God. It is the result of justification, not the cause of it, Gal. 3, 2 ; 
Eph. 3, 17. 

Justification produces sanctification. To teach that sanctifica- 
tion produces justification means to champion the basic papistic 
error of justification by works, Rom. 7, 5. 6 ; 2 Cor. 3, 6 ; Gal. 2, 20 ; 
3,2.3; Rom. 3,28. 

Justification makes the sinner a member in the Christian 
Church (regnum gratiae), Eph. 1, 17 — 23; Acts 4, 4; 2, 41, and in 
the Kingdom of Glory (regnum gloriae), Luke 23, 43; John 11, 25. 

In this connection Holy Scripture also teaches that we owe 
the possession and enjoyment of all these blessings to the eternal 
election of grace, Eph. 1, 3ff.; Rom. 8, 28—30; 2 Tim. 1, 9; 
Acts 13, 48. 

In the ordo salutis the relation of the various articles to one 
another must be rightly observed. Christ's vicarious satisfaction 
and the reconciliation of God with the world form the basis of all 
soteriological teachings, while the article of the sinner's justifica- 
tion by faith is the central and chief article of the Christian re- 
ligion. Sanctification follows justification as its effect. To justifi- 
cation sola fide all other doctrines of Scripture stand in relation of 
cause and effect, of antecedens et consequens. Right here lies the 
fundamental difference between the Christian religion and all man- 
made religions. Christianity teaches sanctification as the effect of 
justification by grace through faith ; all man-made religions reverse 
the process and teach justification by works, or by sanctification. 

Luther says: "In corde meo iste unus regnat articulus, 
scilicet fides Christi, ex quo, per quern et in quern omnes meae diu 
noctuque fluunt et refluunt theologiae cogitationes. (Erl. Ed., I, 3. 
Cf . Christi. Dogmatxk, II, 473 — 503 ; also Dr. Engelder, Dogmat- 
ical Notes.) 




(De Fide Salvifica.) 


Through His vicarious atonement ( satis f actio vicaria) Christ 
has secured for guilty and condemned mankind a perfect recon- 
ciliation with God {reconciliation xaxaXXayrj) y because He, in man's 
stead, has fulfilled the demands of the divine Law and made satis- 
faction for the sins of the world (obedientia activa, obedientia 
passiva). In Christ Jesus, therefore, God is gracious toward all 
sinners and absolves them from all guilt (objective justification, 
iustificatio obiectiva). 

This comforting fact God announces to the world through 
the ordained means of grace (the Word and the Sacraments) 
and demands at the same time faith in the message of reconcilia- 
tion, 2 Cor. 5, 19—21; Acts 2, 38; 16, 31; 10, 42. 43; 13, 39; 
26, 27 — 29. It is God's declared will that all men should appro- 
priate to themselves by faith the saving grace which has been 
secured for them by the divinely appointed Savior, Mark 1, 14. 15 ; 
Acts 16, 31. Those who refuse to believe the reconciliation effected 
by Christ are lost in spite of the fact that also for them salvation 
has been obtained, Mark 16, 15. 16 ; John 3, 16. 18. 36; 2 Pet. 2, 1. 
For this reason we affirm that faith is needed for the acquiring of 
salvation (necessity fidei ad scdutem consequendam). The ration- 
alistic views that God is gracious toward sinners without Christ's 
vicarious satisfaction and that man can obtain eternal life by his 
own works or good conduct (Modernists) are emphatically denied 
by Scripture, Gal. 3, 10; 5,4. Holy Scripture knows but one way 
to salvation, namely, by grace, through faith in the redemption of 
Christ, Rom. 3, 22—25. 

Our dogmaticians are therefore right when they declare that 
salvation is perfect so far as the acquisition and intention are con- 
cerned (ex parte Dei), but not as regards its application by man 
(ex parte hominis), since this must be accomplished through faith. 
Salus perfecta est quoad acquisitionem et intentionem, non quoad 
applicationem, quae fide fieri debet. The meaning of this state- 
ment is that salvation indeed has been secured for all men, but that 
the individual sinner must appropriate it unto himself by faith, 
Mark 16, 15. 16. Fides ex parte hominis ad salutem consequendam 
necessaria est. 





If we keep in mind that salvation has been gained for all 
mankind through the vicarious satisfaction of Christ and that this 
salvation is offered to all men through the means of grace, it is 
clear what constitutes saving faith. 

a. Saving faith is not general belief in the existence of God or 
in the divine Law of God; for this belief is held also by the 
heathen, Rom. 1, 19. 20. Nor is saving faith mere knowledge of 
(notitia historica), or mere assent (assensus historicus) to, the 
general truths of the Gospel, namely, that Christ lived and died 
for men; for this faith (fides historica, fides generalis) is found 
also in devils, Luke 4, 34; Jas. 2, 19, and in unbelievers, John 8, 
43. 45. So also saving faith (fides qua iustificans) is not mere 
knowledge of, nor is it mere assent to, the teachings of Scripture 
in general (Romanists, Arminians, Unitarians). The Law, for 
instance, is not the object of saving faith, since sinners are justified 
without the deeds of the Law, Rom. 3, 28 ; Eph. 2, 8. 9. Nor is 
"Scripture in general" the object of saving faith, though true be- 
lievers, of course, accept the entire Bible as the Word of God ; for 
Scripture itself testifies that a sinner is justified before God only 
through his trust in the objective atonement made by Christ, 
Rom. 3, 24. While it is true that no man can be saved who rejects 
the inspired Word of God, it is also true that man's justification is 
brought about only through his personal confidence in the divine 
promises of the Gospel. Fides saivifica (iustificans) est certa per- 
suasxo de venia peccatorum per Christum obtinenda. 

b. Saving faith (fides iustificans) is therefore personal trust 
(fides specialis), or cordial confidence (fiducia cordis), in the won- 
derful message of the Gospel that God for Christ's sake is gracious 
to all who believe in the atoning blood of His Son shed on Calvary 
for the sins of the world, Gal. 2, 20; 1 John 1, 7. Hence saving 
faith is found only in a heart that says: "I believe that Jesus 
Christ • . . is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned 
creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and 
from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His 
holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death." 
In other words, saving faith has for its object the forgiveness of 
sins which was secured by Christ's perfect obedience and is now 
offered to all sinners in the Gospel, Mark 16, 15. 16 ; Luke 24, 47. 
All who reject God's gracious offer of forgiveness for Christ's sake 
will perish in unbelief, even though they assent to the divine Law 



or to "Scripture in general." Luther : "You must rely with con- 
stant trust on this, that Christ died for your sins; such a faith 
justifies you." (St. L., VIII, 1376.) 

In order to describe saving faith more fully, our dogmaticians 
have said: a) Saving faith is always -fides specialis, or the special 
faith by which an individual believes that for Christ's sake his sins 
are remitted him. The very nature of God's general promise in the 
Gospel calls for this individual application, Gal. 2, 20 ; Job 19, 25. 
The Church of Rome forbids this application as presumptuous. 
(Cf. Concil.Trid., Sess. VI, Can. 14.) b) Saving faith is always 
fides actualis, or the apprehension of the divine promise by an act 
of the intellect and will. Synonymous terms of fides actualis are 
found in Scripture, Is. 55, 5. 6; John 6, 44; Gal. 3, 27 ; Matt. 11, 
12. 28. The scholastic theologians defined faith as an "idle habit" 
(otiosus habitus), which Luther condemned as a "mere verbal 
monstrosity, giving no sense." Also a weak faith and the longing 
for grace in Christ must be regarded as fides actualis, or true faith. 

c) Saving faith is always fides directa, or faith which concerns 
itself directly with the divine promise set forth in the Gospel. 

d) Saving faith is not in every case fides reflexa, reflex, discursive 
faith, by which the believer reflects on, and is conscious of, his 
faith. The faith of infants is true faith, Matt. 18, 6, though the 
fides reflexa is wanting; they have fides specialis, which is fides 
actualis, which is fides directa. (Cf. Dr. Engelder, Dogmatical 
Notes; Christl. Dogmatik, II, 508 ff.) 

Hollaz rightly distinguishes between special faith and general 
faith as follows : "General faith is that by which man . . . believes 
all things to be true that are revealed in the Word of God. Of this 
species of faith we are not now speaking because we are treating 
of faith as the means of salvation. . . . Special faith is that faith 
by which the sinner applies to himself individually thf universal 
promises in reference to Christ, the Mediator, and thi grace of 
God accessible through Him and believes that God d< sires to be 
propitious to him and to pardon his sins on account < f the satis- 
faction of Christ made for his and all men's sins." (Doctr. Theol., 
p. 419,) So also the Augsburg Confession (XX, 23) writes: 
"Men are also admonished that here the term faith does not signify 
merely the knowledge of the history, such as is in the ungodly and 
in the devil, but signifies a faith which believes not merely the 
history, but also the eflfect of the history, namely, , . . that we have 
grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ." And 



the Apology (Art. XIII [VII], 21) says: "And here we speak of 
special faith, which believes the present promise, not only that 
[faith] which in general believes that God exists, but which believes 
that the remission of sins is offered." 

From the above it is clear why the Law must be excluded as 
an object of saving faith. The divine Law has no promises of 
grace attached to it, but promises life and salvation on the basis of 
its complete fulfilment, as a reward of personal merit, Luke 10, 28 ; 
Gal. 3, 12. If the objection is raised that faith itself is called 
obedience (vnaxorj) in Scripture, Rom. 1, 5 ; Acts 6, 7, we reply 
that faith is indeed obedience, yet not to the Law, but to the Gospel, 
Rom. 10, 16. Faith is obedience inasmuch as it accepts the gracious 
promises of God made in the Gospel. But obedience to the Gospel 
and obedience to the Law are opposites; for the first excludes the 
works of men, Gal. 2, 16, while the second demands them, Gal. 3, 12. 
It is for this reason that the Law cannot be the object of faith. 
Those who make the Law the object of faith, or, what is the same, 
who define saving faith as obedience to the divine Law, teach sal* 
vation by works and thus lapse into paganism. They deny the very 
essence of Christianity, namely, the fundamental doctrine of sal- 
vation by grace. 

It is true, saving faith, which appropriates the grace of God 
in Christ, manifests itself both in ready acceptance of the Word 
of God and in constant obedience to the Law; but these mani- 
festations of saving faith do not constitute the reason why it saves. 
They are rather the fruits and proofs that true faith, which justifies 
and saves without works, Rom. 3, 28 ; Eph. 2, 8. 9, exists in the 
heart, John 8,47; 13,35. 

That faith is essentially (formaliter) trust of the heart (fiducia 
cordis), i v sincere confidence in the grace of God offered to all 
sinners fo.- Christ's sake in the Gospel, is strenuously denied by the 
papists. ' 'he Council of Trent declares (Sess. VI, Can. 12) : "If 
any one sh yuld say that justifying faith is nothing else than trust 
(fiducia) in the divine compassion which forgives sins for Christ's 
sake, or that we are justified alone by such trust, let him be 

But the teaching that is here anathematized, namely, that 
saving faith is essentially fiducia cordis, is a clear doctrine of 
Scripture, Rom. 4, 3 — 5; 10, 9. The expressions "to believe in 
or on" (moxeveiv elg xbv vlov, John 3, 16. 18. 36 ; els Xqiotov, 



Gal. 2, 16) cannot mean anything else than "to place one's confi- 
dence in," "to put one's trust in," the Son, or Christ. 

The Apology is therefore right when it says (III, 183) : 
"Faith is not only knowledge in the intellect, but also confidence 
in the will ; i. e., it is to wish and to receive that which is offered 
in the promise, namely, reconciliation and remission of sins." And 
again (IV [II], 48) : "Faith which justifies is not merely a knowl- 
edge of history, . . . but it is to assent to the promise of God, in 
which, for Christ's sake, the remission of sins and justification are 
freely offered." Wherever the Scriptural doctrine that faith is 
essentially trust, or confidence, in the promises of the Gospel is 
repudiated, the pagan doctrine of work-righteousness needs must 


Since faith has been described as knowledge (notitia), assent 
(assensus), and confidence, or trust (fiducia), it is necessary to 
explain these terms and to point out their relation to one another. 
The following may serve to elucidate the terminology : — 

a. If knowledge and assent are conceived as historic faith 
(fides historica), they are not really parts of saving faith; for also 
devils and unbelievers have both. Of historic faith, or of such 
a faith as merely knows, and regards as true, the "history" of 
Christ, Luther writes (XI, 126) : "This is a natural work, without 
grace." "Of such a faith Scripture, the Word of God, does not 
speak," that is, when it treats of saving faith. 

Nevertheless, while the fides historica is not a part of saving 
faith, it is a necessary prerequisite of saving faith, since the Holy 
Spirit engenders saving faith only in those hearts which know and 
understand the Gospel of Christ, Rom. 10, 17. The so-called "im- 
plicit faith" (fides implicita, fides carbonaria) of the papists, ac- 
cording to which the "faithful" simply believe "what the Church 
teaches," though they themselves are ignorant of the doctrine, is 
an absurdity; for without knowledge there can be no true faith. 
When Christ sent out His apostles to make believing disciples of all 
nations, He expressly commanded them to preach the Gospel to 
every creature, Mark 16, 15. 16; Matt. 28, 19. 20, thus showing 
that saving faith must be rooted in knowledge of the Gospel. The 
Lutheran dogmatician Scherzer writes very aptly: "He lies who 
says that he believes what the Church teaches if he does not know 
what she teaches. For no one can believe what he does not know." 



b. However, if the term notitia is understood in the sense of 
true spiritual knowledge of Christ, which the Holy Ghost works 
through the Gospel (notitia spiritualis) and the term assensus is 
conceived as spiritual assent to the promises of the Gospel, which 
the Holy Ghost likewise works through the Gospel ( assensus spiri- 
tualis), then both these terms include the fiducia cordis, or the 
sincere confidence of the heart in the grace of God offered in the 
Gospel. In other words, in that case the terms are synonymous. 
This fact is obvious from the Scriptural usage of the terms; for 
at one time it ascribes salvation to knowledge, John 17, 3; 2 Cor. 
4, 6; Phil. 3, 8; Luke 1, 77, at another to assent, 1 John 5, 1. 5; 
3, 23, and again to confidence, John 3, 16. 18. 36. In all these 
cases knowledge, assent, and confidence are synonyms of saving 
faith, so that each may be used without the other to describe the 
fiducia cordis by which a sinner is saved. The Lutheran dogma- 
tician Buddeus rightly says: "Knowledge without assent and as- 
sent without confidence is not that knowledge nor that assent which 
constitutes justifying faith/' Luther: "Faith is a living, bold 
trust in God's grace, so certain that a man would die a thousand 
times for it." (Trigl, p. 941.) 


Saving faith is never without good works, Gal. 5, 6. Indeed, 
it is itself a most excellent virtue, by which God is supremely glori- 
fied as the Lord of love, who because of His grace in Christ Jesus 
receives and absolves penitent sinners, Eev. 14, 7. But though 
faith is itself a most precious work and the unfailing source of 
constant good works, it does not save as a good work or as the 
source of good works, but solely as the means (medium Xtjutixov), 
by which the believer apprehends the grace of God and the merits 
of Christ which are offered to him in the Gospel. Again, although 
faith is an act of both the intellect and the will of man, — for not 
the Holy Ghost, but the believer himself trusts in the mercy of 
God, — yet it does not justify inasmuch as it is an act or work 
of man. 

These two truths are of the greatest importance for the right 
understanding of the Christian doctrine of salvation by faith ( sola 
fide). Our dogmaticians have embodied them in the statement: 
"Faith does not justify in itself, that is, as an act or habit of 
believing, nor through the works which it produces, but in view 



of its object, namely, because it apprehends the grace secured by 
Christ and offered in the Gospel." 

Hollaz writes: "Justifying faith is the receptive organ and, 
as it were, the hand of the poor sinner by which he applies and 
takes to himself, lays hold of, and possesses, those things which 
are proffered in the free promise of the Gospel. God, the supreme 
Monarch, extends from heaven the hand of grace, the grace ob- 
tained by the merit of Christ, and in it offers salvation. The 
sinner, in the abyss of misery, receives as a beggar in his hand of 
faith what is thus offered to him. The offer and the reception are 
correlatives. Therefore the hand of faith, which seizes and appro- 
priates the offered treasure, corresponds to the hand of grace which 
offers the treasure of righteousness and salvation." (Doctr. Theol., 
p. 420.) 

So also the Formula of Concord (Thor. Decl., Ill, 11. 38) 
says: "Faith is the gift of God by which we apprehend aright 
Christ, our Eedeemer, in the Gospel." "It is faith alone, and noth- 
ing else whatever, which is the means and instrument by which the 
grace of God and the merit of Christ in the promise of the Gospel 
are embraced, received, and applied to us." This important truth 
is taught in all passages of Scripture in which saving faith is placed 
in opposition to human works, Rom. 3, 28 ; 4, 5 ; Eph. 2, 8. 9. 

All who teach and believe that saving faith justifies inasmuch 
as it is a good work itself or the source of good works (papists, 
Arminians, rationalists, Modernists) have fallen from grace and 
renounced the Christian faith. Luther: "Christ alone justifies 
me over against my evil works and without my good works. If 
I regard Christ in this way, then I apprehend the right Christ." 
(St.L., IX, 619.) 



Because saving faith does not itself produce the righteousness 
(grace, justification, forgiveness of sins) by which the sinner is 
saved, but merely accepts the merits that have been secured for 
the world by Christ's obedience and are offered to all men in the 
Gospel, our dogmaticians have called it a passive act (actus 
passivus) or a passive instrument ( instrumentum passivum ) . 
J. A. Osiander thus writes : Receptio alicuius rei non est actio, sed 
passio. And Dannhauer: Fides patitur sibi benefieri. 

These expressions are Scriptural; for in his conversion man 



does not himself contribute anything, but only receives everything 
as a free gift of God. However, saving faith may be called an 
actus passivus, or an instrumentum passivum, also in view of the 
fact that it is engendered and preserved not by man himself, but 
solely through the gracious operation of the Holy Ghost, Eph. 
1,19; Phil. 2, 13. In other words, the penitent sinner does not 
believe in Christ by his own reason or strength, but trusts in Him 
for salvation only because the Holy Ghost has called him by the 
Gospel, enlightened him with His gifts, and sanctified him. The 
Augsburg Confession says (Art. XVIII, 9) : "Although nature is 
able in a manner to do the outward work, . . . yet it cannot produce 
the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, 
patience, etc." In this sense faith is called a passive act or a pas- 
sive instrument. 

However, these expressions must not be understood as if saving 
faith were not in itself essentially an act of the believer (actus 
apprehendendi) . To deny the activity of faith in this sense would 
mean to deny the essence of faith; for saving faith is by its very 
nature an act of trusting, or confiding, by which the believer appro- 
priates to himself the grace offered to him in the Gospel. So Holy 
Scripture itself describes faith when it speaks of it as "receiving 
the atonement," Rom. 5, 11, or "receiving Christ," John 1, 12. 

To express the fact that faith is essentially an act of trusting 
in the Gospel, our dogmaticians have said that saving faith is fides 
actualis, or active confidence. Moreover, they teach on the basis 
of Scripture (Rom. 9, 30; Col. 2, 6; Is. 55, 5. 6; 2, 2. 3; John 
6, 44; 2 Cor. 6, 1; Gal. 3, 27) that to believe means "to desire 
grace," "to seek Christ," "to stretch out the hand toward Christ/* 
"to embrace Christ," "to come to Christ," "to approach Christ," 
"to run toward Christ," "to cleave to Christ," "to hold to Christ," 
"to join oneself to Christ," etc. (Cf. Christl. Dogmatik, Vol.11, 
p. 518 ff.) 

All who deny that saving faith is essentially an act of appre- 
hending (actus apprehendendi) and regard it merely as an "inac- 
tive quality" (otiosa qualitas) or as a mere "ability to believe" 
(potentia credendi) deny faith altogether; for a faith that does 
not trust in Christ is not faith at all, but a mere fancy. In fact, 
if faith is said to save sinners inasmuch as it is a good quality, then 
salvation is based upon good works, since in that case faith saves 
as a human virtue. 

Luther very strenuously affirmed that the act of apprehending 



divine grace is the outstanding characteristic of that true faith 
which is wrought by the Holy Ghost, whereas a mere faith of the 
head (historic faith) or a mere knowledge of the facts of salvation 
does not lay hold of the merits of Christ offered to the sinner in 
the Gospel. Saving faith, then, is always an act of the believer,. 
though it is an act wrought by the Holy Ghost. Luther : "Fides 
est habere Verbum in corde et non dubitare de Yerbo." (ChristL 
Dogmatik, II, 522.) 


With regard to these expressions considerable confusion pre- 
vails in common theological parlance. True faith is personal trusty 
or confidence, in God's gracious forgiveness of sins for Christ's 
sake. The term thus stands in contradistinction to implicit faith 
(fides implicita), or assent to the doctrines of the Church, though- 
these may not be known to the person, and to historic faith (fides 
historica), or mere knowledge of, and assent to, the general doc- 
trines of the Bible. Neither a fides implicita nor a fides historica 
can justify a sinner; for saving faith is always personal trust in 
the gracious promises of the Gospel. With regard to the term 
living faith (fides viva) we must bear in mind that faith is "living"' 
(viva) only because it apprehends the merits of Christ offered in 
the means of grace. Faith never becomes true or living by the good 
works that follow it. Through the performance of good workfr 
faith only manifests itself as true and living before men. We may 
say therefore that every true faith is living faith; and again, that 
every true faith reveals itself as living by proper fruits. These^ 
distinctions must be carefully observed in order that the element 
of works may not be injected into justifying faith, Rom. 4, 4. 5. 


Since saving faith is the believer's trust in the perfect right- 
eousness which Christ has secured for all men by His vicarious 
satisfaction and which therefore exists even before a person be- 
lieves, it is clear that a believer is in full possession of divine 
pardon, life, and salvation from the very moment in which he 
puts his trust in Christ ; for in that very moment all the merits of 
Christ's suffering and death are imputed to him, Acts 16, 31. For 
this reason the believer is also certain of his salvation ; for saving 
faith is in its very nature the truest and greatest certainty. If" 



papists and Romanizing Protestants deny that the believer may be 
sure of his salvation, it is because they teach that salvation, in part 
at least, depends on the believer's good works, in other words, 
because they intermingle justification with sanctification. It is 
evident that all who reject the sola gratia and make salvation de- 
pend on man's character, righteousness, and good works must deny 
also the certainty of salvation. Work-righteousness always produces 
doubt and uncertainty, while personal trust in the vicarious atone- 
ment of Christ and His objective justification always effects a most 
joyous assurance of salvation in the believer's heart. From this 
follows the rule that, if a believer wishes to be sure of his salvation, 
he must unflinchingly adheTe to the gracious promises of the 
Gospel. As soon as he turns away from them, he will be lost in 
a sea of doubt. 

The certainty of salvation, which is produced through the 
Gospel, is not natural (fides humana), but supernatural and spir- 
itual (fides divina), since it is wrought in the heart of the believer 
by the Holy Ghost through the means of grace. By nature all 
men seek salvation by works. Hence the certainty of salvation 
which the unregenerate claim to possess is based upon their com- 
pliance with the divine Law, Luke 18, 11. Such certainty, how- 
ever, must be condemned as sinful presumption, since all who 
would be justified by the Law are under the curse, Gal. 3, 10. True 
certainty, on the other hand, which trusts divine grace without 
works, is the gift of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 2, 4. 5. 


In the controversies on faith the question has been propounded 
whether a Christian may be sure of possessing true faith. The 
question has been emphatically denied by Komanists and Roman- 
izing Protestants, while Holy Scripture very strenuously affirms it, 
2 Tim. 1,12; 4,7. 

It is true, a believer may not always be conscious of his 
faith. Saving faith (fides directa, fides actualis) need not always 
be conscious faith (fides reflexa), or faith which is perceived by 
the believer. (Fides reflexa et discursiva, qua homo renatus credit 
et sentit se credere.) Thus Christian adults, while asleep or en- 
grossed with their daily occupation, indeed possess direct faith, 
which truly apprehends the grace of God in Christ Jesus, yet not 
reflex and discursive faith. That is to say, they meditate neither 



on their act of faith nor on their state of faith. For the time 
being faith with all that it implies has passed out of their direct 
consciousness. They may even be in a condition of coma, not 
being able to reflect on spiritual things at all; or they may be in 
a state of trial (in statu tentationis), when they believe themselves 
to be without faith because they have lost the sense, or feeling, 
of faith (sensus fidei). In all such cases saving faith truly exists, 
though the believer is not conscious of it. Even in baptized infants, 
faith is not a mere potentiality to believe (potentia credendi) or 
an inactive quality (otiosus habitus), but fides actualis, or actual 
trust in, and active apprehension of, divine grace (actus appre- 
hendendi), as Christ directly testifies (Matt. 18, 6: ol julxqoi ol 
moxEvovxeq elg ljue). 

However, the doctrine regarding reflex faith must not be 
abused in the interest of carnal security and indiffercntism ; for 
it is God's will that all believers should be sure of their state of 
faith and grace, Rom. 5, 1. 2. If Christians entertain doubts con- 
cerning their faith, such doubts should be removed. This necessi- 
tates the preaching of the Law in order to show that unbelief and 
doubt are sinful and displeasing to God, John 8, 46; Matt. 14, 31. 
But above all the preaching of the Gospel is necessary, Rom. 5, 20 ; 
8, 15 — 17, which alone works certainty of faith, John 8, 31. 32, and 
dispels all doubts. 

It is well to remind the doubting, fearing Christian also of 
the fact that even the desire to be saved through Jesus Christ is 
already actual, or direct, faith ; for such a desire is never found in 
the natural, unregenerate heart, 1 Cor. 2, 14, but is the gift of the 
Holy Spirit, Eph. 1, 19; Rom. 8, 23. The Formula of Concord 
rightly says (Thor. Decl., II, 14) : "To all godly Christians who 
feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for 
divine grace (scintillula aliqua et desiderium gratiae divinae) and 
eternal salvation this precious passage [Phil. 2, 13] is very com- 
forting; for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this 
beginning of true godliness and that He will further strengthen 
and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith 
unto the end." (Cf. Matt. 17, 20: *Eav fyv T€ ™o r w <og xoxxov 

Because the assurance which a believer has concerning His 
state of grace (certitudo gratiae) is not found in man's heart by 
nature, but is engendered in him by the Holy Spirit, it is rightly 
said that such certainty rests upon the testimony of the Holy 



Ghost (testimonium Spiritus Sancti). The testimony of the Holy 
Spirit is both internal (testimonium Spiritus Sancti internum) 
and external (testimonium Spiritus Sancti externum). The in- 
ternal, or direct, witness of the Holy Spirit is nothing else than 
faith, which assures the believer that he is a child of God, consoles 
and strengthens him in all adversity and temptation, and preserves 
him in the hope of eternal life, Rom. 8, 15. 16; 1 John 5, 10; 
Phil. 1, 6. The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is therefore 
not something that exists without faith or by the side of faith, but 
it is faith itself, 1 John 5, 10. Cp. the Apology (Trigl., p. 154, 
§ 113, German text) : "But faith, properly so called (proprie 
dicta), is when my heart and the Holy Ghost in the heart says: 
The promise of God is true and certain. Of this faith Scrip- 
ture speaks." 

The external testimony of the Holy Spirit consists in this, 
that God through the means of grace works in the believer manifest 
fruits of faith, such as love for God and His Word, John 8, 47; 
1 Thess. 1, 3— 6; 2 Thess. 2, 13 — 15, and love for the neighbor, 
1 John 3, 14, which bear witness to his state of grace, Gal. 5,. 
22 — 24. This external witness of the Holy Ghost, which occurs 
only in true believers, must be distinguished from the carnal trust 
which the unregenerate put in their external "good works," which 
carnal trust in their "dead good works" proves convincingly that 
they are self-righteous and therefore not children of God, Luke 
18, 10—14. 

Every true believer in Christ therefore is sure of his state of 
grace and salvation; for the Holy Spirit, who through the Gospel 
has engendered faith in him, assures him by that very faith that 
he is a child of God and an heir of eternal life, Eom. 8, 15 — 17. 


That saving faith (fides directa, fides actudlis) is found not 
only in adults, but also in regenerate infants is proved in Scrip- 
ture by the following: a) Scripture directly ascribes to such chil- 
dren saving faith, Matt. 18, 6; 1 John 2,13; Ps. 8,2; b) Scrip- 
ture ascribes to them the fruit and effect of saving faith, namely, 
eternal life, Mark 10, 14. The example of John the Baptist, Luke 
1,41 — 44, who was filled with the Holy Ghost while yet in the 
womb of his mother, proves that children can believe before they 
have reached the years of discretion, though in this case the ordi- 
nary means of grace (the Word and the Sacraments) were not 



applied. If from this exceptional case the conclusion is drawn 
that it is not necessary for us to apply in every instance the means 
of grace to infants, we answer that God has indeed bound us to 
the use of these means, Mark 16, 15. 16; Matt. 28, 19. 20, but that 
He Himself is not bound to them. 

While it is impossible for us to describe in detail the faith 
of infants, we must hold that it is nevertheless an active trust in 
the divine promises of grace, or an active apprehension of the 
merits of Christ, Matt. 18, 6 ; Ps. 71, 6. Fides infantium fides ac- 
tualis est, non habitus otiosus vel mera potentia. Gerhard rightly 
remarks : "We are not solicitous about the mode of this faith, but 
we simply acquiesce in the fact that infants really believe." (Doctr. 
Theol., p. 549.) 


Holy Scripture does not always use the term faith in the 
same meaning. In some passages it denotes faithfulness, or trust- 
worthiness, as found both in God and in man. Faith in this sense 
is applied to God in Rom. 3, 3 and to the regenerate in Gal. 5, 22. 
Faith in the sense of faithfulness is in believers a fruit of justify- 
ing faith and belongs into the article of sanctification and not into 
that of justification. In other words, faith justifies and saves, 
not as faithfulness, or trustworthiness, that is to say, not as a good 
work in the regenerate, but as the receiving means {medium 
JLrjTtrixov) by which the believer appropriates to himself the grace 
of God and the merits of Christ offered to him in the Gospel. 
In its proper sense, that is, regarded as the means by which the 
believer receives divine grace, faith always denotes trust in the 
merciful promises of God in Christ Jesus, Mark 16, 15. 16; 
1, 14. 15; 9, 23. 24; Heb. 11, 1. Or we may say, justifying faith 
in this sense is always fides passiva, which saves not in view of its 
own worth as a virtue, but in view of its object, namely, the grace 
of God and the merits of Christ, which it appropriates. Cf. the 
Apology: "Faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is 
a work in itself worthy (opus per sese dignum), but only because it 
Teceives the promised mercy." (Trigl., p. 137.) 

In a few passages of Scripture, such as Acts 6, 7; Gal. 1, 23; 
Jude 3. 20; etc., the term faith denotes the Christian doctrine 
(fides, quae creditur), or the Gospel of salvation by grace through 
faith in Christ. Faith in this sense is called objective faith ( fides 
obiectiva) in contradistinction to justifying faith, which is termed 



subjective faith (fides subiectiva), since it is found in the heart of 
the individual believer. To understand this use of the term faith, 
we must remember that personal trust in the grace of God for 
Christ's sake (fiducia) is indeed the central article of the entire 
Christian religion, so that in this case the Christian doctrine re- 
ceives its name from its chief characteristic. Whenever our dogma- 
ticians speak of fides, quae creditur, they mean the doctrine of sal- 
vation which must be believed; when they speak of fides, qua 
creditur, they mean justifying or saving faith, that is, the receiv- 
ing means of salvation (medium kr]nxtx6v). — In passing, it may 
be said that some exegetes aver that mong in the New Testament 
is never employed in an objective, but only in a subjective sense, 
so that mong always denotes the fides, qua creditur, never the fides, 
quae creditur. (Cp. Christl. Dogmatih, Vol. II, p. 540 ff.) 

With respect to the terminology of the Church on this point 
we may note, by way of review, the following: 1) Implicit faith 
is alleged assent to doctrines though these may not be known to 
the individual (fides carbonaria, Koehlerglaube: "I believe what 
the Church teaches"). 2) Explicit faith (fides explicita) is assent 
to doctrines distinctly known. 3) Justifying, or saving, faith is 
personal trust in the gracious remission of sin for Christ's sake. 
4) Direct faith is faith which lays hold of the grace of God in* 
Christ Jesus. Justifying faith is always direct* 5) Reflex, or dis- 
cursive, faith is faith by which the regenerate perceives that he be- 
lieves. Infants, and adults while asleep or unconscious, have direct 
faith, but not reflex or discursive faith. 6) General faith (fide* 
generalis) is assent to all truths revealed in God's Word. 7) Special 
faith (fides specialis) is justifying faith, or personal trust in the 
grace of God for Christ's sake. The object of general faith i& 
the whole Bible; that of special faith is the promise of the Gospel 
concerning the grace of God and the remission of sins through 
Christ's vicarious satisfaction. 8) A false, or vain and dead, faith 
is called faith only equivocally, because it is nothing but an empty 
boast or a bold presumption upon the mercy and grace of God 
made by impenitent men (Hollaz). 9) Faith is said to be weak, 
or infirm, when either the knowledge of Christ is weak or the 
confidence in Christ is infirm. 10) Faith is strong when either the 
knowledge of Christ, or the trust in Him, is strong. 11) Objective 
faith is the doctrine which is believed. 12) Subjective faith is the 
faith by which one believes. 13) Historic faith is mere knowledge 
of Christ without personal trust in Him. 14) General assent is 



that by which the Gospel promises are regarded as true. 15) Special 
assent is that by which the individual believer regards the gracious 
promises of the Gospel as applying to him personally. 16) Saving 
faith is always fides actualis, that is, an active confiding on the 
part of the believer in the grace of God. 

All these terms express truths that should be kept in mind 
in connection with the doctrine of saving faith. Let the student, 
however, remember that some of these terms have not always been 
used in precisely the same sense, so that their definitions as given 
by different dogmaticians may vary. 




(De Conversione.) 


According to the express teaching of Holy Scripture it is im- 
possible for fallen man to satisfy the demands of divine justice 
and to atone for his transgressions by good works, Ps. 49, 7. 8 ; 
Matt 16, 26. On the contrary, all who seek to appease God by the 
works of the Law remain under the curse and condemnation of 
the divine Law, Gal. 3, 10. In fact, man by nature is so blinded 
and corrupted by sin, 1 Cor. 2, 14 ; Eph. 2, 1, that his carnal heart 
is enmity against God, Rom. 8, 7, and therefore unable rightly to 
love and worship Him, 1 Cor. 10, 20 ; Eph. 2, 12. Man by nature 
is thus incapable of saving himself, Rom. 3, 10 — 20. 

However, what man was unable to do God in His infinite 
mercy has accomplished for him, Rom. 8, 3. 4. Through the most 
perfect obedience of His beloved Son, Gal. 4, 4. 5 ; Is. 53, 4 — 6, He 
has reconciled the world unto Himself, 2 Cor. 5, 19; 1 John 2,2, 
-and since He has blotted out the handwriting of the Law which 
was against sinful mankind, Col. 2, 13. 14, He now offers to all 
sinners the merits of Christ through the means of grace (the Gospel 
and the Sacraments), earnestly desiring (vocatio seria) that all 
men should accept the most gracious forgiveness which He offers in 
Christ Jesus, 2 Cor. 5, 20. 21. This is the Scriptural basis of the 
•doctrine of conversion. In other words, conversion is possible only 
because Christ by His suffering and death has secured salvation 
for lost mankind, John 1, 29, and because God in His indescribable 
grace offers this salvation to all sinners as a free gift, Eph. 2, 8. 9. 


(De Forma Conversionls.) 

Conversion (conversio, imorgocp^, fiezdvoia) does not consist 
in a person's attempt to make amends for his sins and to appease 
the wrath of God by works; nor is it mere sorrow (contritio) over, 
or disgust at, sin or a solemn resolution on the part of man to 
improve his life by good works; for all these things even the un- 
converted may do, Matt. 27, 3. 4; 1 Sam. 24, 16 — 22. But conver- 
sion is essentially the bestowal of faith (donatio fidei) in the 
divine promise of salvation for Christ's sake upon a sinner who 



from the divine Law has learned to know and lament his sins, 
Mark 1, 14. 15. 

This is the true Scriptural definition of conversion as it is 
described in Acts 11, 21 : "A great number believed and turned 
unto the Lord" (jtoXvg xe dgidjuog 6 moxevoag Ijieotqe^ev im xbv 
xvqiov). The turning to God, or conversion, of the great number, 
as here related, was accomplished by faith in "the preaching of 
the Lord Jesus," v. 20. That is to say, the Lord Jesus was 
preached; a great number believed the Gospel of Christ and thus 
turned unto the Lord. 

In accord with this and other passages, John 1, 45 — 50 ; Acts 
8, 34 — 38; 16, 30 — 34, Luther defines conversion as follows: "To 
convert oneself to God means to believe that Christ is our Mediator 
and that we have eternal life through Him." (Cp. St. L., XIII, 
1101; V, 590. Pieper, Christl. Dogmatik, II, 545 ff.) So also our 
dogmaticians declare that conversion takes place in that moment 
when the Holy Spirit engenders faith in the heart of the penitent 
sinner. Hollaz describes conversion as "the act of grace by which 
the Holy Spirit excites in the sinner sincere grief for his sins by 
the Word of the Law and enkindles true faith in Christ by the 
Word of the Gospel." (Doctr. Theol, p. 466.) 

In short, a person is truly converted only when he believes that 
God has graciously forgiven his sins for Christ's sake; or we may 
say: A converted person is a true believer in the divine-human 
Christ, the only Savior from sin. For this reason we must reject 
all definitions which identify conversion with a mere "change of 
mind" or with a mere "moral improvement of life" (reformatio 
vitae) as these have been given by ancient and modern rationalists 
(Pelagians, Unitarians, Modernists, etc.). We readily admit that 
also an unconverted person may improve his life externally 
(iustitia civxlis), that he may suppress this or that vice and culti- 
vate this or that virtue, 1 Tim. 5, 8 ; but unless a person penitently 
receives the grace of God offered to him in Christ Jesus, he re- 
mains spiritually lost in spite of such change of conduct, Luke 18, 
10 — 14. His outward "good works" will be duly rewarded in this 
life (in regno potentiae); but since he is outside the Kingdom 
of Grace (regnum gratiae), he is without God, Eph. 2, 12, and 
without hope of salvation, Mark 16, 15. 16. To this truth the 
whole Bible bears witness, Luther: "God does not desire to be 
gracious to any people, either Jew or Gentile, unless they are con- 




verted, that is to 6ay, unless they believe God with all their heart." 
(St. L., Ill, 1697.) 

Because the Scriptural doctrine of conversion is of such emi- 
nent importance, it must be guarded against all error. To this end 
the Christian theologian must not only rule out all unscriptural 
doctrine on this point, but he must see to it that the terminology 
which he employs is in agreement with Scripture. Let him there- 
fore consider the following points from the outset : — 

a. Any teaching which makes of conversion a meritorious work, 
performed by man (papists: penance; Unitarians: a moral change) 
or the product of man's power, either in whole or in part (Pela- 
gianism, synergism), destroys the Christian faith and frustrates the 
sinner's conversion and justification. 

b. The two essential elements in conversion are contrition and 
faith, Mark 1,15; Acts 16,30.31; Jer. 3, 13. 14. Contrition 
(terrores conscientiae), however, does not form the beginning of, 
or one half of, conversion, nor does it produce a better spiritual 
condition in the sinner ; the terrified sinner hates God all the more 
because of his knowledge of sin and flees from Him. Contrition 
belongs to conversion only for the reason that faith cannot find 
entrance into the proud and secure heart; it is "the indispensable 
preparation for conversion/' Contrition is the effect of the preach- 
ing of the Law, which by itself cannot save a single sinner. 
Gal. 2, 16. (Cf. the contrition of Judas, Matt. 27, 3—5.) 

c. Pietists and Methodists demand a fixed degree of contrition ; 
but what is required is "that a person not only dreads the temporal 
effects of his sins, but also regards himself as lost forever on account 
of his sins, Luke 18, 13." 

d. Even the kindling of the first spark of faith in the sinner's 
heart, or his longing after the grace of God in Christ, constitutes 
conversion. (Cf. Formula of Concord, Thor. Decl., II, 54. 14.) 

e. Conversion in a wider sense embraces sanctification, which 
is the inevitable result of conversion in the narrow sense ( donatio 
fidei). Much confusion and error has been caused by not keeping 
the two uses of the term separate. 

f. The Scriptural doctrine of conversion is perverted 1) by the 
papists (conversion through man's voluntary reception of grace 
and its gifts, by which the unjust man becomes a just man) ; 
2) by all rationalists (Unitarians, Modernists), who define con- 
version as the "moral reformation" of the sinner; 3) by the 



synergists, who condition God's forgiveness on faith as an "ethical 
act"; and 4) by all errorists who make the hatred of sin and the 
purpose to amend one's life the constitutive element of conversion 
or who (Pietists, Methodists) claim that sorrow for sin from love 
toward God moves God to be gracious. 

g. Conversion does not take place by stages, or degrees, but 
instantaneously; for while the preparation for conversion (motus 
praeparatorii, which are chiefly the terrors of conscience, wrought 
by the Law) may extend over a period of time, conversion proper, 
or the kindling of faith, is effected in a moment. There is no 
intermediary state (status medius) in which man is semi dead or 
semiliving, John 3, 18. The synergists advocate the intermediary 
state, progressive, or successive, conversion, for the purpose of intro- 
ducing at some stage of the process man's cooperation. On the 
other hand, all enthusiasts (Pietists, Methodists) go beyond Scrip- 
ture in denying that one is genuinely converted who cannot fix the 
exact moment of his conversion. 

h. The term repentance is sometimes used for contrition and 
faith (conversion) and sometimes for contrition alone. — In Chris- 
tians, repentance (conversio continuata, poenitentia stantium) con- 
tinues until death because of the evil which is ever present with 
them, Rom. 7, 21 ; Heb. 12, 1. The believer therefore turns daily 
with a contrite heart to the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. 
Perfectionism denies this continued conversion, Matt. 18, 3. 

i. The conversion of those who had fallen from grace (David, 
Peter; Jer. 3, 12; John 3, 7; Gal. 4, 19) is identical with the first 
conversion. The Calvinists, who, contrary to Luke 8, 13; Matt. 
12,43ff.; Gal. 5,4; 1 Tim. 1,20; 1 Cor. 9,27; 10, 12, teach that 
true believers can never lose faith, do not acknowledge renewed 
conversion (conversio reiterata, poenitentia lapsorum) and there- 
fore prevent it. The same is true of Perfectionism. 

j. Conversion is not a substantial change, that is, not the crea- 
tion of a new essence of the soul (Flacius, Weigel), but the com- 
plete transformation of the soul, or the creation of new qualities 
in man, 2 Cor. 5, 17; Ps. 51, 10. To teach the latter, does not 
mean to teach mysticism (rationalists), but to affirm the true doc- 
trine of Holy Scripture on conversion, 

k. Conversion is not a mechanical action; for in conversion 
God works in man as in a rational creature and not as in a "stone 
or block" (Formula of Concord), Joel 2,12. 



1. Conversion is not by coercion; that is to say, God does 
not convert a person against his iviil (by irresistible grace: Cal- 
vinism) ; for conversion consists in this, that "God makes willing 
persons out of the unwilling" (Augustine; Formula of Concord, 
Epit., II, 15). 

m. Our Confession rightly condemns as expressions that "do 
not conform to the form of sound doctrine" the following: "God 
draws, but He draws the willing" ; "In conversion the will of man 
is not idle, but also effects something"; and: "Only be willing, 
and God will anticipate you" {Formula of Concord, Thor. Decl., 
II, 86). In accord with Scripture it describes the divine action in 
conversion as a "drawing of the Holy Ghost" (Thor. Decl., II, 88), 
John 6,44; 12,33. 

n. In conversion man is only the subiectum patiens, or the 
subiectum convertendum; that is to say, man "does or works 
nothing, but only suffers" (Formula of Concord, Thor. DecL, 
II, 89. 90). 

o. Against synergism our Confession declares on the basis of 
Scripture : "Before the conversion of man there are only two effi- 
cient causes, namely, the Holy Ghost and the Word of God, as 
the instrument of the Holy Ghost, by which He works conversion." 
(Formula of Concord, Epit., II, 19.) 

Some of these points will be considered at greater length later 
on under their proper heads. We group them here in order to 
show how necessary it is to guard the Scriptural doctrine of 
conversion against error and to point out how essential it is to 
define conversion correctly. (Cf. Christl. Dogmatik, II, 542 ff.; 
Dr. Engelder, Dogmatical Notes.) 


(Terminus a quo; Terminus ad quern Conversionis.) 

Since conversion consists essentially in the bestowal of faith 
in Christ, it is obvious that the terminus a quo of conversion is 
unbelief, while its terminus ad quern is true confidence in Christ 
Jesus, Acts 26, 18: tmarQeyai dno oxoxovg elg q>a>g; 2 Cor. 3, 
14 — 16. Quenstedt: Conversio prima est infidelium, . . . et sic 
notat conversionem ab infidelitate ad fidem. 

Only then is a sinner converted when in place of infidelity, 
which by nature is found in every human heart, 1 Cor. 2, 14, there 
is found in him faith in the gracious promises of God for Christ's 



sake (propter Christum). As long as a person is without faith 
in Christ, he is unregenerate, or unconverted, no matter whether 
in the sight of man he is a criminal or a saint, an illiterate or 
a sage. Upon all who are without Christ, Scripture pronounces 
the verdict that they are without God in this world and have no 
hope, Eph. 2, 12. 

However, as soon as a person believes in Christ, his conversion, 
or return to God, has been fully accomplished, even though his 
faith should be a mere spark (scintillula). Of all who believe in 
Christ, St. Paul writes : "But now in Christ Jesus ye who some- 
time were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ," Eph. 2, 13. 
According to these words it is faith in Christ that distinguishes 
those who are "far off," or the unregenrate, from those who sr> 
"made nigh," or the regenerate. In other words, as the apost e 
clearly teaches, conversion takes place through faith in the blood 
of Christ. 

Unless this truth is constantly borne in mind, it is impossible 
to avoid the mistake of regarding the unconverted as converted, 
or vice versa, the converted as unconverted. 

Properly speaking, the starting-point of conversion is unbelief, 
its terminus, saving faith in Christ, and its essential feature, the 
kindling of faith ( donatio fidei). However, since unbelief is always 
joined with spiritual darkness, the dominion of Satan, idolatry, 
the state of sin, etc., also these factors may be said to constitute 
the starting-point of conversion. On the other hand, faith is 
always joined with spiritual life, communion with God, the keep- 
ing of the divine commandments, etc., and therefore also these 
things may be said to be the terminus of conversion. Thus Scrip- 
ture itself speaks of conversion as a turning from darkness to light, 
from the power of the devil to God, Acts 26, 18, from idolatry to 
the worship of the living God, Acts 14, 15; 1 Thess. 1, 9, from 
transgression to the keeping of the divine Law, Ezek. 18, 21, etc* 

In all these passages unbelief and faith are described according 
to their outward manifestation, or fruits, so that we may rightly 
say: All who are in spiritual darkness, or under the dominion of 
Satan, or in the power of sin, or in the thraldom of idolatry are 
unconverted, while those who have spiritual life, are in communion 
with God, and possess new spiritual powers to keep the command- 
ments of God are truly converted. But it must not be forgotten 
that to be converted, in its proper and narrow sense, always means 
to come to faith in the Gospel of Christ, the Savior of sinners, 



Acts 11, 20. 21; 1 Pet. 2, 25, whereas spiritual life, communion 
with God, and the keeping of the divine commandments are, prop- 
erly speaking, fruits, or effects, of conversion. A person truly 
performs the will of God only after his will has been inclined, or 
turned, to God through faith in Christ, in other words, after he 
has been converted* 


(Causa Etfflciens Principalis Gonversionis.) 

The question concerning the efficient cause of conversion has 
been answered in three different ways. In the first place, it has 
been said that man himself is the cause of his conversion (Pela- 
' danism). Again, it has been claimed that both God and man 
cooperate in bringing about the conversion of man, the sinner either 
beginning the work and God completing it (Semi-Pelagianism, 
Arminianism), or God making the beginning and the enlightened 
and awakened sinner himself completing it (synergism). 

With regard to Semi-Pelagianism and synergism the Formula 
of Concord says (Epitome, II, 10. 11) : "We reject also the error 
of the Semi-Pelagians, who teach that man by his own powers can 
make a beginning of his conversion, but without the grace of the 
Holy Ghost cannot complete it; also, when it is taught that, 
although man by his free will before regeneration is too weak to 
make a beginning and by his own powers to turn himself to God 
and from the heart to be obedient to God, yet, if the Holy Ghost, 
by the preaching of the Word, has made a beginning and therein 
offered His grace, then the will of man from its own natural powers 
can add something [synergism], though little and feebly, to this 
end, can help and cooperate, qualify and prepare itself for grace, 
and embrace and accept it, and believe the Gospel." According to 
this clear, decisive statement the Lutheran Confession on the basis 
of Scripture rejects both Pelagianism and synergism and supplies 
a third answer to the question concerning man's conversion, namely, 
God alone is the efficient Cause of conversion (divine monergism), 
while the sinner (subiectum convertendum) conducts himself mere, 
or pure, passive. 

Of this the Formula of Concord says (Thor. Decl., II, 87) : 
"The conversion of our corrupt will, which is nothing else than 
a resuscitation of its spiritual death, is only and solely the work 
of God, just as the resuscitation in the resurrection of the body 
must be ascribed to God alone, as has been fully set forth above 



and proved by manifest testimonies of Holy Scripture." The doc- 
trine of conversion here set forth is that of Holy Scripture, which 
teaches expressly that, if a sinner is converted, this is due, not to 
any efforts of his own, but alone to the effectual working of divine 
grace, Eph. 1, 19. The Scriptural proof for this truth may be 
stated as follows: — 

a. Scripture positively ascribes conversion, or the engendering 
of faith in man's heart, exclusively to Ood, John 6, 44; Rom. 1, 
5 — 7 ; Col. 1, 12. 13 ; in particular, to His grace, Phil. 1, 29 ; Eph. 
2, 8. 9, and omnipotent power, Eph. 1, 19 ; 2 Cor. 4, 6. Moreover, 
it depicts conversion as a new birth from God, John 1, 12. 13; 
1 John 5, 1, or a spiritual resurrection, Col. 2, 12. 13. All these 
passages describe conversion as an act of divine grace (monergism) 
and exclude from it man's operation or cooperation. 

b. Scripture expressly denies to unconverted man the power 
to know or to believe the Gospel, 1 Cor. 2, 14; John 6, 44, and 
charges him with the offense of resisting the good and gracious 
will of God, which earnestly desires his regeneration, up to the 
very moment when he is converted, 1 Cor. 2, 14 ; Rom. 8, 7. Hence 
also these passages describe conversion as an act of divine grace 
and exclude from it man's operation or cooperation. Both posi- 
tively and negatively Scripture therefore declares itself for divine 
monergism and against all forms of Pelagianism and synergism. 
Luther: "We rightly honor God if we acknowledge that we are 
not saved by our merits and put our trust in His mercy." (St. L., 
XI, 2217.) 

That God alone is the efficient Cause of conversion is clear 
also from the very nature of conversion (forma conversionis). As 
we have seen, conversion consists essentially in this, that the terri- 
fied and penitent sinner believes in Christ and with such faith 
indeed as strenuously repudiates all work-righteousness and trusts 
for salvation in nothing else than in the merits of Christ. But 
such faith in Christ implies a complete and absolute change of 
the sinner's heart and mind. By nature man is addicted to work- 
righteousness and desires no other way of salvation than that of 
relying on his good works. 

But if that is the case, then the change in his heart by which 
he repudiates all works and clings alone to Christ's merits cannot 
come from man; for by nature he detests and opposes the 
Gospel way of salvation, 1 Cor. 2, 8. 14; 1, 23. The change must 
therefore be of God, as indeed it is. The Apology writes correctly 



(Art. Ill, 144ff.) : "This opinion of the Law inheres by nature 
in men's minds; neither can it be expelled, unless when we are 
divinely taught. But the mind must be recalled from such carnal 
opinions to the Word of God." 

Against the Scriptural doctrine that God alone works and 
effects conversion it has been claimed that man by nature is indeed 
unable to believe the Gospel, to desist from opposing the Holy 
Spirit, to prepare himself for grace, and to observe a proper con- 
duct toward the calling and sanctifying operation of God ; but this, 
it is claimed, he certainly can do as soon as he is endowed with 
spiritual powers. 

To this objection we reply that, if a person is able to do these 
spiritual works with powers granted to him by the Holy Ghost, 
he is already converted; for in that case his heart is completely 
changed, his will is conformed to God and divine things, his mind 
no longer regards the Gospel as foolishness, but as divine wisdom, 
and the crucified Savior, the world's only spiritual Hope, is no 
longer a stumbling-block to him. In other words, in that case 
man exhibits every characteristic of a converted person, or of 
a believer. 

Of the unregenerate, or unconverted, the Formula of Concord 
rightly declares (Thor. Decl., II, 7) : "The natural free will ac- 
cording to its perverted disposition and nature is strong and active 
only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God." Of 
conversion it says (ibid., § 83) : "Conversion is such a change 
through the operation of the Holy Ghost in the intellect, will, and 
heart of man ihat by this operation of the Holy Ghost man can 
accept the offered grace." Our Confession thus supports the Scrip- 
tural doctrine that the endowment of a person with spiritual powers 
is the very essence of conversion. (Donatio virium spiritualium 
est ipsa conversion) 

That God alone is the efficient Cause of conversion is the 
proper scope of Article II of the Formula of Concord. As it cor- 
rectly points out, man with respect to his conversion is not active, 
but pure passivus (purely passive), that is, "he does nothing what- 
ever towards it, but only suffers what God works in him" (Thor. 
Decl., II, 89). (Hominem in conversions sua pure passive sese 
habere, id est, pati id, quod Deus in ipso agit. . . .) In other words, 
man's capacity for conversion must be regarded as entirely passive 
(capacitas passiva, non capacitas activa). His spiritual coopera- 
tion therefore begins only after he has been converted. 



Our Confession says (Thor. Decl., II, 90) : "The intellect and 
will of the unregenerate man are nothing else than subiectum con- 
vertendum, that is, that which is to be converted, it being the 
intellect and will of a spiritually dead man in whom the Holy 
Ghost works conversion and renewal, toward which work man's 
will that is to be converted does nothing, but suffers God alone to 
work in him, until he is regenerate; and then he works also with 
the Holy Ghost that which is pleasing to God in other good works 
that follow." 

Hence there are not three efficient causes of conversion (tres 
causae efficientes conversionis), namely, the Holy Spirit, the Word, 
and the assenting will of man, as Melanchthon and his synergistic 
followers erroneously affirmed, but only two, the Holy Spirit and 
the Word of God. In his conversion man is like a block or stone, 
indeed, much worse than a block or stone, since by reason of his 
natural enmity against God, 1 Cor. 2, 14 ; Rom. 8, 7, he resists the 
operations of the Holy Spirit until he is converted. 

The Formula of Concord says of this (Thor. Decl., II, 59) : 
"A stone or block does not resist the person who moves it, nor does 
it understand, and is sensible of, what is being done with it, as man 
with his will so long resists God the Lord until he is converted. . . . 
He can do nothing whatever towards his conversion . . . and is in 
this respect much worse than a stone and block ; for he resists the 
Word and will of God, until God awakens him from the death of 
sin, enlightens and renews him." 

It is true, conversion does not take place without a complete 
inner change of the heart; for the sinner experiences the terrors 
of conscience (terrores conscientiae), and through the operation of 
the Holy Spirit he believes the Gospel, which formerly, in his 
state of unbelief, he rejected. But neither the effects of the Law 
upon his heart nor his faith in the Gospel promises are due to his 
own efforts; for over against both the Law and the Gospel he is 
purely passive and only suffers "what God works in him" (ibid., 
§89). "Man of himself, or from his natural powers, cannot do 
anything or help towards his conversion, and . . . conversion is not 
only in part, but altogether an operation, gift, present, and work 
of the Holy Ghost alone, who accomplishes and effects it by His 
power and might, through the Word." (Ibid.) 

In these clear and unmistakable words the Formula of Concord 
defends divine monergism against synergism. Its doctrine is: 



"Conversion is alone the work of the Holy Ghost, who operates by 
means of the Word of God." (Solus Deus convertit hominem.) 

To the charge that our Confession rather overemphasizes this 
point, we reply that the writers of the Formula of Concord were 
fully persuaded that the adoption of synergism by the Lutheran 
Church would completely destroy the foundation of the Reforma- 
tion and lead the purified Church back to Pelagianism, the funda- 
mental error of the Papacy. A synergistic Lutheran Church, they 
perceived, could not teach the sola gratia in its Scriptural truth 
and purity. Hence, when they warded off the attacks of the 
synergists, they fought against foes who "flew at the throat" of 
Christianity. (Cp. Luther's words addressed to Erasmus: "Unus 
tu et solus cardinem rerum vidisti et ipsum iugulum petisti" Also 
Dr. F. Bente's statement : "Genuine Lutheranism would have been 
strangled if synergism had emerged victorious from this great con- 
troversy of grace versus free will." Concordia Triglotta, Histor. 
Introd., p. 128.) 


(Causae Instrumentales Conversionis,) 
Though God alone is the Cause of conversion, yet He does not 
convert men immediately, or by immediate operation, but through 
definite, ordained means. This truth our Lutheran Confession 
maintains against all forms of enthusiasm (Calvinism, Anabap- 
tism, etc.). The Formula of Concord declares (Thor. DecL, II, 4) : 
"Moreover, both the ancient and modern enthusiasts have taught 
that God converts men and leads them to the saving knowledge of 
Christ through His Spirit, without any created means and instru- 
ment, that is, without the external preaching and hearing of 
God's Word." 

In these words the Formula of Concord points out the 
means by which the Holy Spirit works conversion, or regeneration, 
in the human heart, namely, by "the external preaching and hear- 
ing of God's Word." As aforesaid, conversion in its proper sense 
is nothing else than that a person, terrified by the Law on account 
of his sins, becomes a believer in Christ, trusting for salvation in 
the divine promises of the Gospel. The Gospel is therefore the 
object of converting faith; but it also is the means of conversion. 
Through the same means by which God offers to man the merits 
of Christ (vis evangelii dativa vel collativa) He also works in man 
faith in the proffered grace (vis evangelii effectiva vel operativa). 



This truth is clearly taught in Holy Scripture, e. g., Rom. 
10, 17 : "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of 
<God"; Jas. 1, 18: "Of His own will begat He us with the Word 
of Truth" ; 1 Thess. 1, 5 : "Our Gospel came not unto you in word 
only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much as- 
surance"; 2 Thess. 2, 13. 14: "God hath chosen you to salvation 
through sanctiflcation of the Spirit and belief of the truth, where- 
unto He called you by our Gospel"; 1 Thess. 2, 13: "Ye received 
the Word of God, . . . not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, 
the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that 

These passages prove that the Gospel is not a "dead letter," 
but a living witness, full of power, John 6, 63, because the Holy 
Spirit is always active and operative through it to inscribe its 
divine promises into the human heart, Gal. 3, 1 — 5 ; Rom. 1, 16 ; 
Is. 55, 11. 

Luther writes on this point : "Such is the efficacy of the Word 
whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used that it is 
bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new under- 
standing, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and 
pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but 
♦creative, living words." (Large Catechism, Third Commandment, 
§ 100.) The Gospel is therefore the effective means by which the 
Holy Spirit works faith, or conversion, in man. 

Because the Gospel is connected with Baptism, Acts 2, 38, and 
the Lord's Supper, Matt. 26, 26 — 28, also the Sacraments are effec- 
tive means (media salutis; Onadenmittel), through which the Holy 
Spirit either works faith (Baptism: Titus 3,5) or strengthens 
faith (Lord's Supper: 1 Cor. 11, 26), in other words, through 
which He either converts sinners (infants) or confirms and pre- 
serves in faith those who are already converted (baptism of adults ; 
Lord's Supper). 

While the Gospel is the proper means by which the Holy Ghost 
works faith, or conversion, in man, the divine Law is used by God 
to prepare the sinner for conversion. Saving faith can never exist 
in a person who has not previously been convinced of his exceeding 
sinfulness and his state of wrath and damnation, Ps. 34, 18; 
51, 17 ; Is. 66, 2 ; Acts 2, 37—41 ; 16, 27—31. 

True repentance therefore comprises both contrition (con- 
tritio; terror es conscientiae) , which is effected by the Law, and 
faith (fiducia), which is wrought by the Gospel. Hence, in order 



that sinners may be converted, the preaching of the Gospel must 
be preceded or accompanied by that of the Law, Eom. 3, 19. 20. 
In other words, the proclamation of the Law and the Gospel must 
always go hand in hand, both in their proper connection and with 
the proper distinction of their functions and purposes, Luke 24, 47. 

The Formula of Concord says (Thor. Decl., V, 24—26) : 
"These two doctrines [the Law and the Gospel], we believe, . . . 
should ever and ever be diligently inculcated in the Church of 
God, . . . although with the proper distinction of which we have 
heard, in order that through the preaching of the Law and its 
threats . . . the hearts of impenitent men may be terrified and 
brought to a knowledge of their sins and to repentance; but not 
in such a way that they lose heart and despair in this process, but 
that . . . they be comforted and strengthened again by the preaching 
of the holy Gospel concerning Christ, our Lord, namely, that to- 
those who believe the Gospel, God forgives all their sins through 
Christ, adopts them as children for His sake, and out of pure grace, 
without any merit on their part, justifies and saves them." 

Hollaz writes in the same tenor: "Conversion, taken in 
a special sense [conversion proper], is that act of grace by which 
the Holy Spirit excites in the sinner sincere grief for his sins by 
the Word of the Law and kindles true faith in Christ by the Word 
of the Gospel that he may obtain remission of sins and eternal 
salvation." (Doctr. Theol, p. 466.) 

The preaching of the Law is supported and furthered also by 
the crosses and afflictions, Luke 15, 14 — 18; Acts 16, 26 — 30; 
Ps. 119, 71, which come upon men and by the manifold earthly 
blessings by which God calls sinners to repentance, Eom. 2, 4. For 
this reason the peculiar dealings of God with men have been called 
concio legis realis, that is, a preaching of the Law by act. How- 
ever, neither the manifestation of God's wrath nor of His goodness 
may take the place of the preaching of the divine Word; for this 
alone is the means through which the Holy Ghost operates in man 
toward his conversion, Mark 16, 15. 16. 

To the objection that divine monergism in conversion makes 
the use of external means unnecessary (Calvinism, enthusiasm) 
we reply that divine monergism certainly excludes human coopera- 
tion, but not the employment of the divinely appointed means. 

Of this the Formula of Concord writes (Thor. Decl., II, 46) : 
"This doctrine concerning the inability and wickedness of our 
natural free will and concerning our conversion and regeneration, 



namely, that it is a work of God alone and not of our powers, is 
abused in an unchristian manner both by enthusiasts and Epi- 
cureans; . . . for they say that, since they are unable from their 
own natural powers to convert themselves to God, they will always 
strive with all their might against God or wait until God converts 
them by force against their will; or since they can do nothing in 
these spiritual things, but everything is the operation of God the 
Holy Ghost alone, they will regard, hear, or read neither the Word 
nor the Sacrament, but wait until God, without means, instils 
into them His gifts from heaven, so that they can truly feel and 
perceive in themselves that God has converted them." Luther: 
"Deus non dat interna nisi per externa. Spiritum Sanctum non 
mittit absque Verbo." 

(Motus Interni, quibus Conversio Absolvitor.) 

Whenever a sinner is converted to God, distinct motions, or 
movements, occur in his heart. In the first place, alarmed on 
account of his sins, which the divine Law has made known to him, 
Rom. 3, 20, he experiences the terrors of conscience ( terrores con- 
scientiae), that is, true fear and anguish of heart, Acts 16, 29. 30. 
The terrors of conscience ( terrores incussi conscientiae agnito pec- 
cato), though necessary, are not meritorious in themselves, Matt. 
27, 3 — 5. In spite of his knowledge of sin and the wrath of God 
the alarmed sinner, as long as he hears nothing of the Gospel, 
remains unconverted. However, when the Gospel is preached to 
him, the Holy Spirit engenders in his heart true faith (ftducia 
cordis) in the gracious promises of forgiveness, and it is through 
this second motion, that is, through implicit trust in Christ, that 
he is converted, Acts 16, 31 — 34. 

These two motions, contrition and faith, are found in every 
person who is truly converted, Ps. 32, 1 — 5. Where they do not 
occur, genuine conversion has not taken place. 

The Formula of Concord writes (Thor. Decl., II, 70) : "In 
genuine conversion a change, new emotion, and movement in the 
intellect, will, and heart must take place, namely, that the heart 
perceive sin, dread God's wrath, turn from sin, perceive and accept 
the promise of grace in Christ, have good spiritual thoughts, 
a Christian purpose and diligence, and strive against the flesh. 
For where none of these occurs or is present, there is also no true 



However, where contrition and faith are present in the hearty 
there conversion has taken place, even though the believer's knowl- 
edge of sin and his trust in divine grace are yet weak. Scripture 
nowhere demands a specific degree of contrition or faith, though,* 
of course, the regenerate should strive to grow in knowledge of 
both sin and grace, Col. 1, 9 — 11; 2 Pet. 3, 18. True contrition 
may be said to exist in every case where a penitent sinner regards 
himself as eternally lost on account of his sins, Acts 16, 30. 

True love of God is not a part of contrition ; love is a fruit of 
faith, Gal. 5, 22, or the effect of conversion. But saving faith exists 
in the heart as soon as the penitent sinner longs for, or desires, 
divine grace in Christ Jesus, that is to say, as soon as he has a mere 
spark of faith (scintillula fidei), as Holy Scripture clearly teaches, 
Is. 42, 3 ; Mark 9, 24. The Formula of Concord says (Thor. Decl.^ 
II, 14) : "To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their 
hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal sal- 
vation this precious passage [Phil. 2, 13] is very comforting; for 
they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of 
true godliness and that He will further strengthen and help them 
in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end."' 


(Conversio Momentanea Est.) 

In the discussion of the subject of conversion the question 
whether conversion is successive (conversio successiva) or instan- 
taneous (conversio momentanea) has been given much considera- 
tion. Since conversion takes place through the kindling of faith 
in the heart by the Holy Ghost, it is clear that it occurs in 
a moment (conversio momentanea), namely, in that moment when> 
the Holy Spirit through the means of grace engenders faith in 
the contrite sinner. Hence, as soon as the penitent sinner pos- 
sesses the first spark or longing of faith, he is already fully con- 
verted. (Conversio temporis momento fit, . . . veluti Iv §Lnfj 
ofAfiaxog. Calov.) 

Conversion may be said to be successive (conversio successiva) 
only in case certain acts (actus praeparatorii) which commonly 
precede it are regarded as a part of conversion. To these actus 
praeparatorii belong the inculcation of the divine Law, the con- 
viction of the sinner of his guilt and condemnation, the incitement 
of the terrores conscientiae, and the like. Properly speaking, how- 



ever, these acts of the Holy Ghost only prepare the sinner for con- 
version, but do not convert him ; for conversion, properly speaking, 
occurs only in that moment when the Holy Spirit through the 
Gospel changes the alarmed and despairing sinner into a rejoicing 
believer in Christ. 

For this reason we must not speak of a middle state (status 
medius) between conversion and non-conversion (homo renascens, 
homo in statu medio constitutus) , since this is both unscriptural 
and synergistic. It is unscriptural ; for Holy Scripture recognizes 
only two classes of men, the converted and the unconverted, or 
what is the same, believers and unbelievers, John 3, 18. 36 ; Mark 
16, 16 ; 1 Pet. 2, 25. According to Scripture it is impossible for 
a person to be in a middle state even for a moment, for there is no 
middle ground between belief and unbelief, between life and death, 
Luke 11, 23. 

Theologians who in opposition to Scripture reject the instan- 
taneous character of conversion and explain it as a long-drawn-out 
process, during which the sinner is first enlightened, then awakened, 
and finally brought to the decision to accept Christ, commonly do 
so in the interest of synergism, that is to say, to support their 
erroneous views that the awakened sinner in the final analysis must 
convert himself with spiritual powers bestowed upon him by the 
Holy Ghost (Latermann). 

As a matter of fact, the objections of modern rationalistic 
theologians to the instantaneous character of conversion are really 
not directed against the conversio momentanea, but against the 
sola gratia; for synergistic rationalism regards conversion both as 
an act of divine grace and as an act of human meritorious effort. 
It champions the doctrine of "successive conversion" and of "the 
middle state" since according to its erroneous view God endows the 
sinner only with the potentiality, or ability, to believe and not 
with faith itself. Faith, it is claimed, is man's own free, con- 
scious, and deliberate self-determination (Selbstbestimmung), ac- 
complished through spiritual powers granted to him by God. From 
this it is clear that the onslaught upon the Scriptural doctrine of 
instantaneous conversion is, in the last analysis, directed against 
divine monergism in conversion, or against the sola gratia. 

It goes without saying that what is here said of synergism is 
true also of Arminianism. Both insist upon successive conversion 
because both hold that man in the last instance must convert him- 



self. Hominis voluntas in conversions non est otiosa, sed agit 
aliquid. Against this error the Formula of Concord testifies 
(Thor. Decl., II, 62) : "No modus agendi, or no way whatever of 
working something good in spiritual things, can be ascribed to 
man before his conversion." 

(Gratia Conversionis Besistibilis Est,) 

Although the conversion of man is a work of God's omnipotent 
power, Eph. 1, 19 ; 2 Cor. 4, 6, divine converting grace nevertheless 
is not irresistible (gratia irresistibiiis), as the Calvinists teach, but 
resistible (gratia resistibilis), as Holy Scripture affirms, Matt. 
23,37; Acts 7,51. The reason for this is evident. Though God 
is irresistible whenever He deals with man according to His sov- 
ereign power (in nuda maiestate), Matt. 25, 31. 32, He can be re- 
sisted whenever He exercises His omnipotent power through means, 
Matt. 11, 28 ; 23, 37. Both in His Kingdom of Power and in the 
Kingdom of Grace the means by which He purposes to bless man 
can be rejected. Thus life, the greatest of God's earthly gifts, 
though created and sustained by divine omnipotence, can never- 
theless be destroyed by man. Similarly spiritual life, or conver- 
sion, though offered through the means of the omnipotent Word 
of God, can be rejec